Of course you can use an electric spice grinder. But there is a certain joy to crushing your own dried chiles or coriander seeds or peppercorns and releasing the freshest, fullest flavor with a mortar and pestle.

This set is not only beautiful, but also especially functional, made of porous ceramic, with a wide pestle base for proper pulverizing.

Wade Ceramic mortar and pestle, 2 cup capacity, $50 at Foster's Homeware, 399 Market St., 215-925-0950.

- Maureen Fitzgerald
Cool as a cucumber

This new lite dressing from Annie's, made with cucumbers, yogurt, mint, and a hint of Indian spices is a cool raita-style dressing high on flavor and low on calories.

Annie's Organic Lite Cucumber Yogurt dressing, $3.79 for an 8-ounce bottle at most supermarkets or www.anniesnaturals.com.

- M.F.

North African accents

Serve your couscous and kabobs on these bold Moroccan-style porcelain dishes, decorated with Moorish tile designs. Try a few accent pieces or an entire set at these reasonable prices.

Square plates, 10-inch, $8; 7-inch, $5; Square bowl, 6-inch, $5 from cb2.com.

- M.F.