Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Batán (stone grinder)

The batán is a large stone for grinding and milling commonly used in southern South America. My grandma has been using the one pictured above for the last 60 years, and in her house in Peru it’s a must-have for many of the dishes she prepares.
Wikipedia has an incomplete entry for it here and a much better one in Spanish here. Basically it’s just two rocks — one large flat rock at the base and a smaller, rounder (or oval) rock which is used to crush or grind the ingredient between the two. It’s like a large version of a mortar and pestle.
One would think that a food processor could easily replace it, but according to my grandma, the taste and texture of the result is completely different.
The batán is used to grind all kinds of ingredients. It’s used to crush corn and cilantro for green tamales, and huacatay combined with aji amarillo for aji de huacatay. If you gave my grandma the choice of using an electric coffee grinder, or the batán, she’d grind her beans with the batán every time.

Since I don't have one of these in my Tulsa kitchen yet, I’ll try to improvise and update this post to let you all know what worked for me and what didn’t.

Photographs by Michael Findley


  1. just linked this article on my facebook account. it’s a very interesting article for all.

    Coffee Grinders

  2. Thank you Nitheesh.
    After you linked that article it went from the lowest ranked post to the second highest ranked post on the blog. Also the link you put on your comment "Coffee Grinders", is not working for me.

  3. Just returned from Bolivia where I saw several home Batan's but never saw one used. Thanks for the video.

  4. Three cheers for your online store guys. You know how to satisfy your customers. God bless you. store

  5. The blade and burr are the two fundamental sorts of present day espresso grinders.

  6. Nice details on the use of the Batan, the South American version of the "Mano de Piedra" or
    "Metate", as it is known in Central America and Mexico, where is used to grind grains, primarily nixtamalized corn, to make Tortillas.
    A few years ago, on a trip to Peru, my Wife and I stayed in a small town on the foothills of the Andes, and there in the patio of the old Colonial home where we were lodged, was a Batan,I have long been an admirer of the ingenuity of Humans to solve common problems with the materials available, so I asked the cook that prepared our meals about the polished stone object
    that was by the kitchen door, she gave me a quick demonstration and historical lesson, on the name and use of the Batan.
    This article brought back pleasant memories of our trip to that marvelous country, Peru!