This is my family’s version of the Breach Candy sandwich, or the Bombay Grilled Sandwich. Layers of tomatoes, onions, cheese (we used cheddar but I think we should have gone for a milder cheese), boiled, sliced potatoes, green bell peppers, sandwich masala (basically a salty chaat masala), and a chutney made from crushed coriander, green chilies, and garlic fill this sandwich. To make it at home, just butter the outsides of the bread, spread chutney on the inside of the slices, assemble the fillings, close it up, and then grill away on a sandwich press.
For all those who don’t believe in vegetarian sandwiches, really, you shouldn’t say anything until you try a Breach Candy sandwich. Eating it in the evening, hot off the grill on the crowded streets of Bombay is such a satisfying treat. Our recreation of the sandwich is one of my favorite foods to eat when I’m missing Bombay, as I was so terribly much on Saturday. I had just come back from my cousin Amrita’s old home, where I spent the morning playing with her 4 month old son, my nephew Parthiv, a little Bombay baby.
We tease Amrita relentlessly about how her little P will become a first-class FOB, growing up in Bombay, but she insists that he won’t. Although Amrita was born in Sri Lanka, she spent the majority of her life in Framingham, MA, just 5 minutes away from my house, until the day she fell in love with my other cousin, Ravi, and moved to Bombay. (No, not incest- although Ravi and Amrita are both MY cousins, they are not in any way related to each other- and yes, it’s amazing, 2 Kutchi people that aren’t related.) So now they have little Parthiv, and Saturday, 30 people or so dropped by their house to see the baby and parents. It was like they were a traveling museum exhibition: I told them they should charge admission.
To feed the folks that kept filtering in and out of their house, Nita Kaki laid out a snacking spread, straight from Bombay via Amrita and Ravi’s suitcases:
Baked soy chaklis- these chaklis are high protein and low fat, compared to the equally delicious but very dangerous regular chaklis, which are fried spirals made with rice flour, chickpea flour, and sesame. A savory Indian answer to the pretzel, chaklis are much tastier than dry pretzels- even when they are made of soy, and baked. Amrita whispered, “They also go so well with beer!” I think you could probably find chaklis at your local Indian store, although I don’t know about the baked soy kind- these seem to be a special item. To prevent them from crushing, Amrita stored the bags of chaklis in large plastic boxes for the journey across the ocean. (NEW: see recipe for chaklis at the end of this post.)
Nita Kaki also served poori/papdi and athana/achaar. The poori are flat, fried disks flecked with caraway seeds. Amrita’s dadi (my grandmother’s sister) made the two athanas– one with pickled whole green chili, and one with raw mango and lime. Athanas are very tasty but I used to get a little freaked out by them. So many varities, so many colors, all sinisterly coated with oil… but I got over my aversion, and good thing, because athana flavors can wonderfully complement a meal by adding dashes: chili-heat, bitterness, sourness, or meeti– sweetness.
recipe from Saveur, November 2002
3 cups rice flour
1 cup chickpea flour
4 tsp. black sesame seeds
2 1/2 tsp. fine-grain salt
1 1/4 – 1 1/2 tsp. cayenne
1/2 tsp. ground asafetida
3 tbsp. vegetable shortening
1. Combine rice and chickpea flours, sesame seeds, salt, cayenne to taste, and asafetida in a large bowl. Using a pastry cutter or 2 table knives, work shortening into flour mixture until it resembles coarse meal. Gradually add 1 1/2 cups water, mixing with your hand, until dough is smooth.
2. Fill an Indian noodle press fitted with the star-shaped disk or a pastry bag fitted with a 1/4″ star-shaped pastry tip. Holding press or pastry tip about 2″ above a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet, squeeze out a 7″-8″ long rope of dough onto cookie sheet, allowing it to fall into a spiral about 2″ om diameter. Break off dough rope with your finger and continue process, spacing spirals 1″-2″ apart. Repeat process with remaining dough.
3. Pour oil into a deep, wide medium pot to a depth of 1″ and heat over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking. Working in batches and using a metal spatula, transfer dough spirals to oil and fry, stirring with a slotted spoon, until golden and crisp, 1-2 minutes per batch. Drain on paper towels. Set aside to cool completely.