Handvo (Gujarati Lentil and rice Savoury cake)6:51 AM
Remember that movie three idiots where drunken Kareena says to Amir Khan, tum Gujarati logo ka khana itna khatarnak kyon hota hai???? Dhokla, Fafda, handva, thepla...aise lagta hai jaise koi missiles hai ..." (why does the name of Gujarati food sound like dangerous weapons? Dhokla, Fafda, Handva, Thepla...sounds not like food but missiles).
Exactly my thought. I love Gujarati food especially their elaborate platters but the names always bring a smile on my face. while we were growing up we only heard of Dhokla, that quintessential sweet shop staple for breakfast. Yellow spongy squares of steamed gram flour batter soaked with a salty sweet spicy syrup and sprinkled with coconut and not so fiery fried green chillies. Seriously I can survive on this snack with some hot tea. but now with the globe opening up and people being interested in various cuisines more of Gujarati food are coming into limelight and more such names are being familiar. and I don't see anyone complaining.
Like Dhokla, Handvo is another protein packed baked savoury cake perfect for breakfast or even a light lunch. What makes it unique is its a perfect example of having all your required food groups in one dish. It has a mixture of 4-5 lentils (whole grains), Rice and veggies in the form of bottle gourd and carrot (optional). I absolutely love the slight tang from the overnight fermentation that pairs so very well with my morning cup of tea.
Here I have explained the baked version but traditionally they are cooked on stove top on the dying embers for a very long time. You can definitely do that as am sure the slight charred sides will take it to another level. Also for the handvo mix I prefer to soak my lentils and rice which I grind and ferment but ready mixes are available in the market. They give exactly same result. Try your local chakki (flour mill) they probably have such ready mixes. In Kolkata you can try Jaggu Bazar atta chakki.
(Recipe adapted from Nishamadhulika )
Rice: 1/2 cup (I use parboiled rice but basmati works perfectly too)
Bengal gram: 3 tbsp (split dal)
White lentil or urad dal (split): 3 tbsp
Toor dal/pigeon peas (split): 3 tbsp
Yellow lentil/ moong dal (Split): 3 tbsp
Ginger: 1/2 " piece
Green chillies: 1-2
Yogurt: 1/2 cup
Bottle gourd: 1/4 of a medium one (1 cup grated)
Carrots: 2 small
Fresh coriander leaves: 2-3 springs
Baking soda: 1/2 tsp
Oil: 2 tbsp
Chili powder: 1/2 tsp
Sesame seeds: 1 tbsp
Hing: 1/2 tsp
Mustard seeds: 1/2 tsp
Cumin seeds: 1/2 tsp
Curry leaves: 2-3 springs
Soak rice and lentils separately for 3-4 hours.
Now using your mixer grinder make a smooth paste of the lentils and a coarse paste of the rice. Mix the ginger and chillies while grinding. now mix both together along with the yogurt. Try using as less water as possible while grinding to get to a thick batter. I often use the yogurt for liquid while grinding. Cover and let it sit on the kitchen counter to ferment over night or at least 8-12 hours till it increases in volume.
after the fermentation is done, peel the carrot and bottle gourd and finely grate it. Mix this to the batter along with salt and little sugar as per taste. Mix in little turmeric for colour and chopped coriander leaves.
Pre heat your oven to 200C and grease a baking tray. I use my Borosil square pan (7"x7").
Just before baking mix in the baking soda and give it a good stir. Pour it in the prepared pan nd level the top.
Take a small pan or a tadka pan and heat the oil. Once it's hot add mustard and cumin seeds. once it starts to splutter add the curry leaves and hing. It will sizzle a lot be careful. Switch off the flame and add the sesame and chili powder. Mix and pour it over the batter so that the top is covered.
Bake for 2o minutes, then cover the top with a piece of foil and bake for 5-10 more minutes or till a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
Take out and let it cool. Cut in squares and serve warm with any sauce of your choice.
We love it with sweet tamarind chutney and cups of steaming masala chai.