It is a doughnut made from rice flour with a unique method of preparation. Ghari is a wedding preparation. It is served as wedding breakfast with Chavlya-batatyachi (Black-Eye Peas and potato) bhaji and Kolim (baby shrimps).
Since this is a wedding item it has a lot of rituals associated with it. It would begin with washing and drying the rice to be used for the Ghari by a group of women who would sing songs of the young bride or groom describing their beauty and the emotion they are going through on the threshold of marriage. The group would start from the wedding home to the village well or sometimes the sea to wash the rice. The quatities would be something like 30 kgs of rice for the entire village's requirement of Ghari. Yes the entire village would be invited for the wedding. It would begin with doing a small puja and breaking a coconut. This necessarily would be done by a Saubhagyavati (a married women whose husband is alive). After washing it would be dried on the plastic sheets or mats borrowed from the entire neighbourhood else how would one dry 30 kgs of rice in one go. This drying was done on the seashore where normally fish is dried in large open spaces specially held for business use.
After drying the rice would be taken to the local flour mill. A little aarti would be done for the mill hand who would grind the rice offer him a coconut. Tease him a bit by smearing a little turmeric paste on his face.
The above would be done a few days before the wedding. The eve before the wedding all the women of the village gathered to help in making the dough. It would begin with boiling huge vessels of water on wood fired make shift stoves made from bricks just like the construction workers do in India. Here only expert women were allowed. Then in the boiling water the rice flour would be added to make the Ukad as it is called. Then this huge amount of cooked flour would be poured out on large mats to cool a bit and the lesser skilled women would seat around the mountain of dough to knead it. Me as a little girl and other brats would pester Mom and the other aunts to give a us little dough to play with to make our own tiny gharis.
The next step is done by the most skilled women. One of my far way aunt called Manu Kaki would be invited to do this work by the whole village. She did it just right. Villagers said she was respected for her skill if somebody else did it the batch failed and no one would want to take that risk at a wedding.
To begin with Manu Kaki would take a huge Tapela (flat bottomed Aluminium vessel) clean it thoroughly apply oil to it. Then put the dough in such a way as to line up the walls and bottom. She would leave a little well in the center. Now this is the interesting part. She would add red hot charchoal in the well of dough. Seal the well with more dough and then cover tightly with a lid. This vessel would then be taken to a prohibitted area to leave it for frementation all night. We kids were warned not to dare to go near the pots else "phatke bastil" (you will get a whack).
The whole thing about Ghari is so interesting it makes me nostalgic even the weddings in my village have gone glitzy now they don't happen like this any more.
To move on, the morning of the wedding few women would rise early to make the breakfast. The dough checked, charcoal removed from the centre, first the palms are wet with water and a small part of the dough would be taken in the palms and shaped like a doughnut or medu vada and deep fried in huge oil kadai on medium heat till golden. The first batch of Ghari's were made by a Old lady in our village who was believed to have supernatural intervention. I knew though even as a kid she some how had the capacity to stand the heat of oil. She would dip her hands in the boiling hot oil to removed the fried gharis and the first batch were put on a patravli (plate made from leaves) and offered to the family God as naivedya. I can actually sense your eyes popping out at this but I have witnessed this myself. Then other women would take turns to fry till all the gharis were done as it is not possible for one single women to do all the frying.
Here I am giving the method Mom followed to make ghari for a small family.
1 cup rice
1 cup water
Oil to fry
Wash rice 2 day before you want to make ghari and dry it in the sun or shade does not matter. The rice is tested by chewing a few grains it should be nice and crumbly. Then grind the rice in dry grinder to a fine powder like any other flour/atta.
Now heat 1 cup water in a pot and bring to a boil. Add the rice flour and mix using a rolling pin. Remove from heat and take out the ukad (cooked dough) on a flat board and knead well if required dip your hand in water to make it softer. This dough should be slightly harder than the chapathi dough. Now put in in a vessel and create a well in the dough. Now next heat half a cup of oil till it starts smoking and pour into the well in the dough. Seal the well with more kneaded dough and close the vessel with a tight lid. Keep the vessel in a dark dry place for fermenting all night.
Next morning remove the lid the dough should smell only slightly sour due to fermentation but not too much. Pour out the excess oil from the center. Then dip your palm in water and shape the doughnuts like medu vada with the hole in the centre. Fry them in oil on medium heat till golden. Check the first one by breaking it into two if the inside is cooked properly if not then slow down the heat a bit. The Ghari should be hard on the outside and soft on the inside. It can be had with any gravy or dip. One thing to remember no salt should be added to Ghari dough it is traditionally bland in taste.