So, I have always have loved one pot Gujarati food stuff like Handvo, Bhuko and such. I will make it a point to do a blog post about each of them eventually. But today, the post is dedicated to Handvo, which is a thick and savoury pancake made out of batter which is a mix of pulses, rice, and wheat. Although it is a quite popular one pot meal option and is very nutritionally balanced since it checks all the necessary food groups, I like handvo because 1. it is a very convenient, fuss-free option requiring minimal supervision, 2. It can be easily pre-planned and at mealtimes, all you have to do is a few simple steps and a wonderful meal is ready without much sweat.
Those who are uninitiated to Gujarati Cuisine, Handvo is a thick savoury pie / pancake made out of predominantly lentils, rice, wheat and bottle gourd. It can be made wheat free if you use Rice rava or millet Rava instead, I promise it will be equally good.
No gluten intolerance or stuff, I just wanted to up my protein consumption. So I replaced the wheat with various other lentils, other than the usual ones.
Though we are all fussing over eating freahly cooked stuff, there are certain foods which are always prepared in extra portions in all families! Ours is Handvo!
Handvo has recently gained more popularity with a lot of Thali serving restaurants serve handvo as a part of the meal. But, at home, we prepared handvo when mom would have had a very long day with other chores and would want to serve us something nutritious, yet quick. Also, since it is possible to do a lot of pre preparation in advance, it was also a choice of dinner when mom had to hand over kitchen duties to a not so proficient cook like me. She would do all the prep, and all I had to do was, grate a bottle gourd, add it to the batter, mix, pour in a nonstick pan and let it cook on a slow flame checking only intermittently.
Now, the below method describes how to cook the Handvo in a nonstick/thick bottomed fry pan. However, it is traditionally cooked in a special contraption on a coal stove called Sagdi in Gujarati and Sigdi in Hindi. I have cooked it in this particular utensil too and while it is more authentic, it is very cumbersome to use when cooking in small quantities. But it it is a very beautiful contraption and I am adding a picture so that you can have a look.
However, don’t fret about this utensil, since the handvo tastes great even when cooked in a regular pan. Here is the recipe.
- 1/2 cup Toor Daal,
- 1/2 cup Moong Daal,
- 1/2 cup Urad Daal,
- 1/2 cup Masoor Daal,
- 1/2 cup Chana Daal,
- 1/2 cup rice,
- 1/2 cup Rava/Sooji/Semolina ( increase to 1 cup if you feel the batter is too smooth and not granular),
- 1/4th cup curd,
- 1 medium sized Bottle Gourd/Lauki,
- 1 tbsp, green chilli and ginger paste,
- 1 and 1/2 tsp of red chilli powder
- 1 tsp of turmeric powder,
- 1 tsp of coriander cumin powder,
- 1.5 tbsp of salt, adjust as per your taste,
- 3 tbsp of sugar, ( to counter the sourness of fermented batter, adjust based on the amount of fermentation in your batter ),
- 1/2 tsp of baking soda/fruit salt (eno), (use only if your batter has not fermented at all ),
- cooking oil
- mustard seeds,
- a handful of peanuts, coarsely crushed
- sesame seeds, to sprinkle as a garnish
- Wash and soak the dals and rice together in enough water for around 8 hours or overnight. Drain and grind to a smooth paste, adding a little water at a time.
- Take this paste in a large vessel and add the semolina and curd. Mix everything well, preferably by hand, as that is believed to help fermentation process. Increase the quantity of semolina to make the batter of a granular consistency. It should not be paste-ey or too smooth.
- Leave this mixture to ferment for about 8 hours. This batter may not double on rising on fermentation, like idli batter. If it rises well and doubles, that is great, However, that is unlikely to happen in places that do not have a warm climate. So, it is okay if the batter does not double in size. However, it will rise about an inch or so and that is enough. You can place the vessel in sunlight for better fermentation, or you can also leave it in a preheated oven, with the power turned off and just the light on.
- Once fermented and you are ready to cook, take the batter and add the seasonings: salt, sugar, chilli powder, coriander-cumin powder, turmeric powder and the green chilli-ginger paste. Mix well.
- Peel and grate the bottle gourd. Add it to the seasoned batter.
- Heat a nonstick pan with about 1 to 1.5 tbsp of oil and swirl the oil around to coat the pan.
- Pour about 1/3rd batter into the pan carefully. It will sizzle a bit, but swirl the pan and make an even layer of the batter. Sprinkle a third of the crushed peanuts and some of the sesame seeds on top. If you spread it thinner, it will cook faster and the crust will crisp faster.
- In an another pan, heat 2 tsp of oil. Add some mustard seeds and a pinch of asafoetida. Turn the heat off and add optionally, some chilli powder to the oil. Pour this on top of the batter in the previous pan. Cover with a lid and cook on a slow heat for about 20-25 minutes.
- Turn the heat off and let is stand with the lid off for a few minutes to cool a bit. Loosen the sides using a spatula and invert it onto a plate. Once cold enough to touch, cut into quarters or squares and serve with a condiment of your choice. Masala Chai, green chutney and tomato ketchup are some of the options.
- Repeat the above process with the remaining batter. Increase or decrease the amount of batter in the next batch depending on how you like the first batch. Thicker you spread the batter, the softer the core will remain. I prefer to make thinner and crisper batches.