Most curry or sipyan recipes tend to start with onions, garlic and chillies being pounded in a pestle and mortar. If you lack time or patience, of course you can use a food processor or chop the ingredients finely. However after tasting the difference between processed which tends to be cut rather than pounded and bruised by the pestle, I have never been tempted to take short cuts again. There is satisfaction in pounding or grinding ingredients by hand.
It is important to have the right kind of pestle and mortar. In Burma, the mortar tend to be fairly large and heavy, usually placed on the floor and a substantiate pestle is used to pound or grind. Before Jamie Oliver made the pestle and mortar popular it was not always easy to find one which was made from stone.
Now it is possible to buy a granite pestle and mortar from department stores to Chinese supermarkets. I always look for one that is as big as I can carry, with deep sided mortar and a slightly rough texture on the inside which makes grinding dried shrimp or spices much easier. Some stones, such as molcajete will need to be seasoned before using.