HANDVO - Savory Rice & Lentil Cake (Gluten Free)

The year, that I was away from blogging, for every tough time that I went through, there were also some wonderful times and beautiful moments that I had with my loved ones. There were also moments filled with solace and immense peace. I travelled with my bua (paternal aunt) to my home town to attend the annual congregation of the followers of my late spiritual guru, a practice that began 85 years ago; initiated by Gurudev himself. Sessions are held where prolific orators (from amongst his followers) give discourse on his teachings and from the holy books that hold his teachings and hymns.

I attended the congregation after more than two decades. It was an immensely gratifying experience and it helped me getting in touch with my inner self. I used to visit the ashram along with my Mum and Dad as a kid but most of those visits were spent in playing with friends and wandering around, enjoying the beautiful and peaceful environs of the ashram. One can’t expect kids to be even remotely interested in matters of spirituality! It is only after going through the grind of life, that we understand life and ourselves better.

It was also nice catching up with my buaafter a very long time. I have yet to meet a more warm, practical and genuine person in my life and I say this not just because she happens to be my aunt.  Every time I meet her, she unknowingly imparts a valuable lesson of life to me; helping me evolve as an individual and as a human being. I always look forward with anticipation to my meetings with her.

Last year post Diwali, my daughter and I stayed with her for 3-4 days and she treated us to some of the most delicious foods I have ever hadperhaps it was more so because of the immense love that she put in the food she cooked J She treated us to a lip-smacking potato and cheese Rösti and this handvo, a dish she introduced me to. It is a savory cake which has the goodness of rice, lentils, veggies and spices that makes it ideal for breakfast. It keeps one satiated and ticks all the boxes of a balanced and healthy meal. The texture is slightly crunchy on the outside and chewy on the inside. 

The recipe looks elaborate but it is actually simple. One good thing is that you need to prep it in advance and just need to cook/bake it in the morning and serve it with chutney of your choice. I always prefer freshly made mint chutney along with it; the way my bua serves it. It brings immense freshness to the handvo and makes it taste even better. 

Here is what all goes into this delicious handvo...

1 cup rice (coarsely ground - similar to coarse semolina)
1 cup mixed lentils, coarsely ground (texture similar to the rice)
{urad (ivory lentils), moong dhuli (split green mung without skin) & chana dal (split bengal gram without skin)}
½ cup sour yogurt

1 cup shredded lauki/ghiya/dhoodhi (ash gourd) - you can even use courgette
½ cup shredded carrots
1 small onion, finely chopped 
1 tsp fruit salt (I used Eno)
1 tbsp lemon juice 
1 tsp caster sugar
¼ tsp red chili powder
½ tsp turmeric
2 green chilies, ground to paste (I used 2 large ones)
1 heaped tsp ginger paste
1 heaped tsp garlic paste
Salt to taste (I used 1½ tsp)

For tempering
3 tsp oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
10 curry leave (I tore them into two-three pieces with hand)
3-4 whole red chiles (I tore them into bite size pieces and removed seeds)
½ tsp black sesame seeds
½ tsp white sesame seeds 
A few black and white sesame seeds for sprinkling

Soak the coarsely ground rice and lentils overnight using yogurt (curd/ dahi). Add some warm water (i used 1 table spoon at a time) to bring the batter to a very thick consistency. 
Ferment the batter overnight or for 10-12 hours.
Add shredded veggies in the morning along with chopped onion, lemon juice, sugar, chili powder, turmeric, salt and ginger garlic green chili paste. Mix well. 
Heat oil in a pan and add together the mustard seeds and the red chilies (I fry them till they attain a deep color and a smoky flavor). Next tip in the sesame seeds. 
Add curry leaves and once everything starts crackling, remove from the heat and add to the batter. Mix well. 
Mix fruit salt with 1 tbsp of water and add to the mix. Mix well again. 
Bring the batter to a thick consistency using water gradually; a tablespoon at a time. 

To make the handvo the traditional way, grease a medium sized non stick pan with a little oil and heat it and pour in the batter. 
Sprinkle the sesame seeds, cover the pain and reduce the heat. Cook for approx 10 minutes. 
When cooked, it will leave sides. Turn it over and cook for another 5 minutes. 
Remove from the pan and slightly cool the handvo. 
Slice and serve with a chutney of your choice. 

I made the handvo in the oven using a 9 inch square pan. 
Preheat the oven at 180-190 degrees C
Line the base and sides of the pan with parchment or butter paper. 
Pour the batter in the tin and bake it till it turns slightly golden and when a skewer inserted comes out clean (approximately 30-35 minutes)
Cool slightly and remove from the pan. 
Using a serrated knife, slice the handvo and serve with chutney. 

I served the handvo with Mint and Cilantro Chutney. I used the following:

1 cup mint leaves
½ cup cilantro (dhaniya patta/ fresh green coriander)
½ tsp amchoor (dry mango powder) or lemon juice
½ tsp salt or to taste
1 shallot (small onion)
1 green chili

Blitz everything together in a mixer-grinder and the chutney is done! 

Update: (9th Sept. 2-13) - I suggest you double or even triple the amount of chutney ingredients to go with this much amount of handvo. 

Note: While soaking the rice and lentils, don't be tempted to make the batter loose since next morning veggies will be added and they will add their natural water to it
Note: The consistency of the batter should be approximately that of fritters. (However a thicker one is preferable)
Note: Feel free to use veggies of your choice - peas, courgettes, cabbage, beans, etc 
Note: Do not be intimidated with the amount of chilies. Both, the whole red ones and fresh green ones add a different flavor to the dish.  
Note: You can keep the lentils and rice ground separately in separate containers and use them at your convenience. 
Note: There are special pans in which handvo is traditionally made, however, you can use a non-stick pan (as suggested in this recipe)

Serves - 5-6 

Thanks for visiting and see you again!

Post linked to MLLA event #63 hosted this month by Swathi of Zesty South Indian Kitchen. My Legume Love Affair or MLLA is an event that was the brain-work of Susan who began it in 2008. The show is now being run by Lisa of Food and Spice blog. 

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