Piled up wedges of 'handwo'
Handwo is a savory rice and lentil cake that is served as breakfast or a snack. This recipe hails from the state of Gujarat in Western India.
The rice and lentils are soaked, ground and fermented. The batter is then fortified with vegetables, spiced and steamed. The result is a beautiful savory cake, very high in protein and fibre, low in fat and absolutely divine to taste.
For all the plus points, this recipe does need a fair bit of preparation-which is best left to the weekends.
Let me run you through the ingredients- and don't let the long list bog you. I'm sure most of the ingredients can be found in the pantry of an Indian kitchen / or easily available in an Indian store.
1 cup rice ( I used Kolam)
1/4 cup chana dal
1/2 cup moong dal
1/2 cup tur dal
3 green chillies
1" piece fresh ginger root -finely grated
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup yogurt (preferably sour)
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp salt or to taste
Vegetables: 1 1/2 cups of grated carrots, grated cabbage, finely chopped spinach and shelled peas
1 tsp oil
1 T sesame seeds
1 sprig curry leaves
1 tsp mustard seeds
Rinse the rice in water 2-3 times and soak in sufficient quantity of clean water.
Mix the three lentils together, rinse them in water similarly and soak.
The soaking process will take 5-6 hours. Now, grind the rice with the green chillies into a smooth paste. Remove into a big bowl. Grind all the lentils together into a smooth paste. Mix it with the rice paste thoroughly. Add the curd to this mixture, stir well.
Keep the bowl tightly covered and keep in a warm place overnight. The bowl has to be large enough, because the batter will rise due to fermentation.
Take the fermented batter. Add the veggies, salt, turmeric, grated ginger. Give the batter a good stir. You can taste at this stage to check for salt and spices. If you want it spicier, you can add some red chilli powder.
Grease a microwave safe round pan. Pour the batter into it. Microwave at 80% power for 12 minutes or until a tester comes out clean. Alternatively you could use a steamer for 15 minutes or so. I used the microwave and it was very fast and came out clean.
Once done, remove and cool for 5 min. Keep a plate to cover the pan, invert the pan so that the cake falls onto the plate.
Cut it into 8 wedges. Heat the oil, add the tempering ingredients. Once the sesame seeds turn golden, remove from flame. Garnish the handwo wedges with the tempering.
The veggies are optional- but they give it a great crunch and add a huge dose of vitamins and fibre.
Using just 1 tsp of oil, it's too good to be true. Frankly, you can eat it just like that but you could serve it with green coriander chutney.
Do take the effort to make this for breakfast sometime, and you can put your legs up and relax instead of making lunch. Because this is one hell of a filling breakfast!