Handvo happens to be a traditional snack item from the state of Gujarat from Western part of India. This savory cake is made from fermented rice-lentil batter using a special handvo pan. However handvo can be baked in an oven or cooked in a wide, deep nonstick pan on stove-top as well. Choose whatever method works for you. Handvo is quite filling and so can be suitable for dinner as well. I prepare it as a lunch / dinner as I find it hard to bake it in the morning rush, when breakfast is expected to be on the table around 6.30 am. They freeze well too and so can be prepared in advance for impromptu meals.
I must admit that I was quite surprised when I came across for the first time, a baked handvo version since it happens to be a traditional dish. Traditional home cooking in India hardly involves oven based recipes and for that reason alone, handvo caught my attention. However I didn't get a chance to try it until a couple of years ago. This recipe comes from a Sanjeev Kapoor's cookbook and I didn't make any changes except the vegetables used in the recipe. It is not very spicy and so even kids can enjoy this without the spicy chutneys. And don't get intimidated by the long list of ingredients mentioned below. Most of them just go into the ground batter. If you are used to making dosas / idlis, the process comes across as a breeze.
1 cup rice
1/4 cup urad dal / skinned black gram
1/4 cup chana dal / split chickpeas
1/4 cup moong dal
1 tsp ginger paste
1 tsp g.chili paste
1/8 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp red chili powder
Salt to taste
2 tbsp. grated bottle gourd
2 tbsp. grated cabbage
1 tbsp. grated carrot
(I used about 1/2 cup grated zucchini and carrot instead of the above vegetables listed.)
1/4 tsp baking soda (I used Eno's salt)
1 tbsp. + 3/4 tbsp. oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
10 - 12 curry leaves
2 tsp sesame seeds
A small pinch of asafoetidaThe grinding part:
* Soak the rice and dals together in water such that the ingredients are immersed in water, for about 3 to 4 hours.
* Drain and grind the soaked ingredients adding sour yogurt as needed. (I used about 3/4 cup yogurt.)
* Add a tbsp. oil to the batter and allow to ferment it overnight or 7 to 8 hours.
The handvo making:
* Preheat the oven to 350 deg F / 175 degree C. Grease a baking tin and keep it aside.
* Add ginger, chili paste, chili powder, turmeric, vegetables and salt to the batter. Stir well.
* Heat about 3/4 tbsp. oil. in a small pan. Add mustard seeds, curry leaves, asafoetida and sesame seeds. When mustard seeds start spluttering, turn off the stove and add this tempering to the batter and mix well. (Instead of mixing the tempering into the batter, I poured it over the top). Add baking soda and again give it a stir.
* Pour the batter into a greased baking tin and place it in the preheated oven.
* Bake until a toothpick inserted at the center comes out clean and the top starts to turn golden brown, about 30 - 40 minutes. Remove from the oven, cool and cut into squares or the desired shape.
* If using stove-top method, place a large non stick saute pan on the stove and add 1/4 tbsp. oil. Lower the heat, add batter and let it spread evenly. Cover and cook for 20 minutes. Flip it over and cook covered for 15 min or until both sides turn brown.
* Cut into wedges and serve with green and sweet chutneys. Leftovers can be refrigerated for a day or two.