Here we are, deep in the heart of serious holiday eating, and since Thanksgiving waddled its way out the door I've hardly been in the kitchen. Not that there wasn't a whole helluva lot of cooking going on in that last week of November. There was. Our friend Irving and I whipped up meal after meal, but then once he'd made his way back down to LA, it was party party party. We celebrated our anniversary on Dec 9th. Prior to that we went to a Hanaukkah party, a couple of Christmas parties and had lunch with an old boarding school pal of Alan's who was visiting from the East. Besides that, there has been the continuous cleanup, paperwork, and organizing involved with settling my parents affairs. Needless to say there has not been a lot of cooking, or even eating in going on. Well, all that's about to change, things are about to get back to normal in my kitchen. I figured I'd start with a very unusual for me event. A request.
A few weeks ago I got an email from a reader asking me if I'd show him how to make Gujarati Handvo. Considering I've been going through a major Gujarati food crave ever since my trip to LA back in October, it's not such a weird request. I've been making Dhokla, and Khandvi, so why not Handvo? They're sort of the Big 3 of gluten-free Gujarati snack foods, and since a lot of my friends have gluten allergies what could be a more natural fit? We always do a lot of entertaining this time of year and I love serving stuff that not only my gluten free guests, but everyone can enjoy.
Handvo is a Gujarati dish, a spicy, savory cake made of ground rice, lentils and vegetables. Sprinkled with sesame and mustard seed, it has a crisp, crunchy crust and a a warm soft interior. Perfect. Of course like any popular dish anywhere, everyone has their favorite way of making Handvo, all sorts of additions and twists. The recipe I've got here is a pretty basic one and a great start for novice Handvo bakers.
Handvo is traditionally made with Bottle Gourd, which is a large pale green squash, like so.
Don't worry if you can't find any Bottle Gourd where you are, zucchini works just great. One final word about Handvo, it has a prep time. There is a time of soaking and a time for grinding and setting. This takes several hours but the actual baking time is less than an hour. So, once you've set things up you really don't have to worry about much until its time to cook.
Here's What You Need:
1 cup Basmati rice
1/4 cup channa dal
1/4 cup toor or toovar dal
1 Tbs urad dal
1/2 cup of plain yogurt
2 or 3 finely ground serrano chilies
2 tsp ginger paste (fresh ginger ground with a bit of water to make a paste)
2 tsp shallot or garllic paste (done the same as above)
1 and 1/2 cups of shredded zucchini
2 tsp of salt or to taste
1/2 tsp of ajwain seed or (fennel seed if you don't have ajwain)
2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp citric acid
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 Tbs sesame seeds
3 Tbs vegetable oil (I always use coconut oil)
1 tsp brown mustard seeds
1/2 tsp Kashmiri chili
3 curry leaves
Here's What To Do:
Rinse the rice and the dals and soak them in a bowl of water for about 6 hours.
Drain the water from the rice and dal.
In a bowl mix together the turmeric, ginger paste, shallot or garlic paste, serrano chilies, salt, sugar andajwain seed. Set it aside.
Grind together the rice and dals.
Mix in with 1/2 cup of yogurt...
...and then mix in the spices from the bowl.
Blend everything together well. Set it aside.
Shred the zucchini.
MIx 1 and 1/2 cup of shredded zucchini into the batter.
Stir it all together.
In a small skillet heat 1 Tbs of vegetable oil.
When the oil has heated slightly, add in the curry leaves (if you have them) and the Kashmiri chili.
Mix this chili oil into the batter.
Stir it well once again. Cover the bowl with a cloth and tuck it away in a warm space to rest for at least 6 or 7 hours, or even overnight.
I soaked my rice and dal overnight, let my batter rest from 11 am to 6pm, and then we had it as an evening snack.
When you are ready to bake your Handvo, preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Grease a round or square cake pan or even a muffin tin if you'd like to make individual Handvo.
When the oven is up to speed, mix the citric acid, and the baking soda into the batter stirring in 1 direction only.
The batter will start to get foamy.
Pour the batter into your pan. Scatter 2 Tbs of sesame seeds over the top.
In a small skillet heat 2 Tbs of vegetable oil.
When the oil is hot, toss in 1 tsp of brown mustard seeds.
When the mustard seeds start to pop and sizzle pour the vegetable oil and mustard seeds over the cake batter.
Cover the top of the cake pan with foil and pop it into the over for 40 minutes.
After 40 minutes, remove the foil, turn your oven to broil and pop the cake back in on a broiler rack with the broiler on high.
Let it bake for another 10 minutes or until a crust forms.
Take the pan out and let the cake rest for about 10 to 15 minutes, then cut it up and serve.