Monday, February 29, 2016


My homes buzzes for days with birthday shenanigans. G nears that senior citizen target. The operative word is 'nears'. He is happy to be ineligible for quite a few items!! Of course I indulge him with his favorites. One of them being ganthias, which he can nibble astonishingly fast! So I know I have to make copious amounts. Prassy gives me a new fangled chakli press. It looks like a weapon, not a cooking device.

 I am excited to use this steel contraption as the old fashioned two handed press requires muscles and dexterity.  Besan, oil, ground black pepper and ajwain make a flavorful dough. Ajwain or carom seeds, have a strong anise like taste. I fashion it into large sausage shapes. The sausage is inserted into the cylinder of the machine. I pull the trigger. I have mentioned that it does looks like a weapon. Out come squiggly besan strands. I squeeze them into hot oil, taking care not to crowd the oil. They turn pale brown in minutes. Disaster strikes as I press and squeeze. The new contraption comes apart, screws and all. Operation ganthia comes to a halt as I apply my unskilled knowledge of repairs to no avail. Finally, I resort to the old fashioned brass press, muscle power taking over from a trigger happy finger.

Production is resumed. Soon I have a mound of ganthias draining on paper towels, as I  wait for the ganthia siren song to lure G into the kitchen. 

Makes 4-5 cups

4 cups Besan or Chickpea Flour 
1 tablespoon ground Black Pepper 
1 teaspoon Ajwain or Carom seeds
1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
3 tablespoons Canola Oil
1 cup Water or more as needed 
Canola Oil for frying

Whisk besan, black pepper, ajwain and salt in a bowl.

Make a well in the center and add oil and water. 

Start mixing besan slowly into water, until you have a thick dough. Use water a little at a time if needed.

ALTERNATELY you could place the dry ingredients in a food processor.  Add oil and water and pulse till you have a thick dough.

Heat canola oil in a wok.

Divide dough into 5-6 equal portions. Roll each portion into a sausage shape.

Insert portion into receptacle of ganthia press. 

Hold the press over hot oil and squeeze till you have 2-3 inch strands.  Cut strands with a sharp knife, letting them fall into hot oil. Do this carefully as you don't want to have third degree burns. You could lay the strands onto parchment paper and then transfer them to the oil. 

Do not crowd the oil with ganthias. They need to be stirred with a perforated spoon. They should brown in a few minutes. Regulate the flame if they brown too fast. Drain onto paper towels. 

Repeat this process till the dough is over. 

Cool ganthias and store in an airtight container.

Birthday eve begins with a mound of fried papad. The day starts with a barrage of phone calls from friends and family and a gigantic box of steaks, G's best birthday gift from Samir. We know what's on the dinner menu!!!! I buzz around the kitchen, baking a cake, making corn soup, sauteing mushrooms and truffles, broiling a potato dauphinois. Steaks are grilled. A Cabernet Sauvingnon is decanted, courtesy Geets and John. The cake drips candles. We sing in happy unison.. G reflects that 3x20 isn't a bad place to be at.