Handwo - a steamed savoury cake

Grains soaking for handwo

Handwo is a Gujarati steamed delicacy. The batter is made from soaked rice and a mixture of lentils, fermented, mixed with vegetables and steamed / microwaved. A delicious tadka of sesame seeds, mustard seeds is poured on the top, the cake cut into wedges and served with a tangy green chutney.

You can do several things with this batter and each one is as tasty as the other
-Cook it in a deep non stick pan on the stove top
-Steam in pressure cooker
-Cook in microwave
-Make thick 'adais' or thin dosais on a skillet

I've blogged about the recipe in May 2006 here.

The two changes in this recipe are that I've used red unpolished rice instead of white rice and masoor dal instead of moong dal (see soaked grains picture above).

Here, I have slightly browned the microwaved wedges on a lightly oiled skillet till a little crispy on the outside. You can easily omit this step if you are short on time.

Don't have a microwave at home? No problem! Pour ladle full of batter into an oiled non stick skillet, do not spread and let it cook on sim, till golden brown on both sides. Serve with chutney or milagai podi.

Skillet cooked Handwo 'scones'

This is my entry for WBB 21 - Microwave breakfasts at 100% Microwave Cooking
This savoury cake is also my entry to Srivalli's MEC - Cakes event.

Rhea's Dal - Warning: Addicting stuff ahead.

We were over at our friend Rhea's place for dinner and stay-over some weekends ago. She had taken a lot of effort to prepare an all-vegetarian spread covering her entire table, but for me the star of the dinner was a dal, which i could simply not get enough of. It had such a depth of flavour, something that lingered on your taste buds even after swallowing the delicious stuff mixed with fragrant basmati rice. I just HAD TO get the recipe from her. She was nice enough to share it with me, and that too without leaving out the secret ingredient.

In this case it was a ready Dhansak Masala. Her husband K is a renowned Parsi caterer and when he recommends a brand of dhansak masala, I really don't have to think twice. It is the Mangal Dhansak Masala. While masala brands like Everest, MDH and Badshah are the ones that are advertised and much used, some of these age old brands. I had never heard about or seen this brand of masalas, even though I' m a girl who loves to linger around the spice aisles in the supermarkets....on my next visit I looked for this and I found it. The print on the box said 'Since 1912' which only made me happier :) If you do not find this masala at your grocer, you can prepare the dhansak masala from scratch, using the spices in your pantry. You'll find the recipe here. Use only the dried spices, adding the ginger garlic paste fresh whenever you make the dal.

With the secret ingredient in hand, there was nothing to stop me from making this dal the very next day for lunch and then some three times each week since then. I've been trying it with every type of dal on my shelves, sometimes a combination of whatever is left, sometimes with the addition of greens like spinach or methi, and it turns out finger licking good each and every time, and we thank Rhea silently each time we enjoy a meal with this absolutely delicious homely dal!

Without more raving, let me share the recipe with you.


1/2 cup masoor dal (skinned, split pink coloured lentils)
1/2 cup tur dal
1 tbsp sunflower oil or ghee
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp ginger garlic paste
2 sprigs fresh curry leaves
1 medium onion, very finely chopped
1 heaped tsp Mangal Dhansak Masala
1 tsp salt or to taste
lots of finely chopped coriander

Wash the dals well and pressure cook them with 2- cups water till soft. Mash well with the back of a rounded ladle till smoothly pureed.

In a wok, heat the oil / ghee. Temper with cumin seeds, then add in the curry leaves, ginger garlic paste. Stir for a minute or so on low heat.

Add the onions and saute till golden brown. Stir in the dhansak masala with some water after which the mashed dal goes in.

Adjust the consistency with some water, if this is very thick. Season with salt and let it simmer for 2-3 minutes. Garnish with chopped coriander.

We've had this with rice, with rotis, with pulao and it tastes fantastic with everything. Trust me, it is totally worth it going through the trouble to find this masala in your spice aisle. Dal will never taste the same again :)

BTW, Rhea has her own food blog and you can drop by to find some authentic Bengali recipes, some Parsi recipes and her own creative stuff...She has also blogged about this dal as Parsi Masala Dal, with a slightly different version. My version is what she rattled out to me as we were stuffing the delicious dinner at her place the other night.
Here's a recipe for Parsi Dhansak from scratch that I'd blogged in 2006.

With love from the Calcutta Cookbook

5th March,2008
As a part of my love for regional Indian cuisine, I've decided that once a week, dinner will be from any region other than our own. This week, we are enjoying some homely vegetarian Bengali meals from the chapter Bangla Ranna of The Calcutta Cookbook

Bengali menu for tonight
Piaj koli, alu piaj o tomator tarkari (Onion sprouts with potatoes, onions and tomatoes)
Masoor Dal

Both these recipes are from The Calcutta Cookbook - A Treasury of recipes from pavement to palace, written by Minakshi Das Gupta, Bunny Gupta and Jaya Chaliha. And the special part about both these recipes, is that they have no masalas, spice powders letting the inherent taste of the ingredients come through strongly. More details on The Calcutta Cookbook, here.

For once, I followed both recipes to the T and was very happy with the result. As I type this, DH is relishing every little morsel. I ate up earlier to stick to my 8.30 pm deadline for dinner. I hope it is alright to reproduce the recipes from the book here...

The tarkari (vegetable) recipe is one of the rare ones that feature spring onions in a starring role. I have blogged about this spring onion curry earlier on, which is a modified version of a maharashtrian zunka. I have also tried the spring onion zunka inspried by the cabbage zunka from Nupur's One Hot Stove. In the markets here, we get 3-4 thick bunches of spring onions for Rs.10 which makes it difficult to just use them as a garnish. Such recipes that feature spring onion as one of the main ingredients, make sure they can be put to good use.

From The Calcutta Cookbook
Piaj Koli, Alu Piaj O Tomator Tarkari
[Spring onions with potatoes, onions and tomatoes in a dry curry]

Serves 4

500 gms onion sprouts (spring onions 3-4 bunches)
200 gms potatoes
200 gms tomatoes
2 tbsp mustard oil
1 tso panch phoron
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp sugar
salt to taste

1.Cut onion sprouts into 1 1/2 inch pieces. (I sliced the white bits thinly)
2.Peel and cut the potatoes, tomatoes and onions into thin rounds.
3. Heat the oil to smoking in a wok, reduce heat and add panch phoron. As soon as oil stops spluttering, add the potatoes and onions. Stir fry for 2 minutes and add the tomatoes.
4. Stir fry over medium heat for 5 minutes, then add the turmeric, salt and sugar. Reduce heat and cook covered for 7-10 minutes until the potatoes are nearly cooked, the onions soft and tomatoes pulpy.
5. Add the onion sprouts, mixing well. Increase heat and cook for another 5 minutes until they are soft. No water must be added to this dish.

Masoor Dal

From the variation no.1 given in the book.
Pressure cook 1/2 cup masoor dal with 2 cups water and pinch of turmeric powder until soft. Remove from cooker into a saucepan. Thin with water as per your liking. Simmer once with some salt.
In a tadka ladle or a wok, heat 1 tsp mustard oil. Add 1-2 chopped green chillies, 1/2 tsp nigella seeds to the hot oil. Let the seeds splutter and add it to the dal. Serve hot with rotis and vegetable.

Update 14th April, 2008
I was waiting to remake this dish to be able to post a decent picture....but did not get the chance, hence posting it today anyway, so as not to miss the bus on RCI Bengal.
The tarkari and masoor dal are my entries for the event hosted by Sandeepa at Bong Mom's Cookbook

Putthandu Vazhthugal - Happy New Year

Putthandu Nalvazhthugal

Today is Varusha Pirappu, or the day when a new year is born according to the traditional Tamil calender.

Here's wishing you a year full of happiness, love and prosperity and of course good food.

Looking for something to make for your New Year lunch?

Browse some authentic Tamil recipes here, or you'll find a larger selection of Tamil food from across the food blogging community, neatly indexed over here.

Baby Carrots and Thyme

That is a shot glass!

The day before, in Godrej's Nature Basket, I found some infant carrots :) (Smaller than baby carrots) Some were smaller than my little finger and thinner! I couldn't resist buying a bag full of them. Also on the offer were fresh herbs at under Rs.5 a pack - another irresistible deal - so brought 2 packs of basil, one each of thyme and oregano. While basil is available in most supermarkets all the time, this is the first time I found thyme and oregano, fresh...

Carrot as small as thyme :)

Right there, I knew I wanted to roast the cutie carrots whole with loads of fresh thyme and garlic. I also threw in some onion layers which were promptly devoured as soon as they came out of the oven as they has crisped into brown DELICIOUS chips.

Nothing much of a recipe here, the pics will tell you all :)

How to roast carrots?

Preheat oven to 200 C.

Scrub and wash the carrots well. Wipe dry. Slice off the tops and any hairy tails. Line a roasting tin with foil. Put in the thin carrots as it is, and halve the slightly thicker ones vertically.

From a small bunch of fresh thyme, remove the leaves and add to carrots. Add some stalks as it is too. Chop 4-5 garlic cloves into big pieces and add to tin. I also added layers of one medium onion, but this is optional. Salt the carrots and add a couple of tablespoons of olive oil and mix everything well with hands.

Bake for 40-45 minutes at 200 C. Remove the whole stalks of thyme and serve as a side or use in a wrap or sandwich (like below).

The thyme-carrot combination was fantastic but could try this out with any of your favourites like rosemary or oregano.

In the pic above, you'll see that the babies have shrunk considerably and the tin looks quite empty. That's because I took the pic after eating quite a few of them. And you don't see any onions either - as they were the most yummy bits!

Roasted baby carrots and basil sandwich

"Ain't I such a pretty sandwich?"

While I ate most of the roasted carrots and garlic straight from the roasting tin last evening, the ones saved were used in a sandwich for breakfast this morning.

Just bread, roasted carrots and loads of fresh basil leaves and some freshly ground black pepper. We had this with some Mild Tabasco (Green Pepper) to counter the sweetness of the carrots.
I also added a sliced boiled egg to my sandwich. This is the hubby's :)

Loved this simple sandwich. You could use a cheese spread or mayo to spread on the slices before assembling, but this tasted divine to me as it is!

This is my entry to Kalyn's Weekend Herb Blogging hosted by Jugalbandi

Orange-Sesame Soba Noodles

There are some recipes that the minute you lay your eyes on them, you know it's going to taste great. And you can't wait to make it and taste it yourself. This was one such yummy recipe that I came across in Prevention magazine a couple of months ago. It featured soba noodles, which I had in the pantry; peanut butter which I had just made a bottle of; fresh oranges for the dressing and there was nothing to stop me from trying this one out.

The result was so delicious that the hubby and me lapped up the noodles with our chopsticks in pin drop silence, except for the 'hmmm this is good' every two minutes. If you don't have soba noodles, try this out with any sturdy noodles, because the dressing is to die for.

Recipe for Soba noodles in a sesame-orange-peanut butter dressing
Category : Asian cuisine, Vegetarian Asian, One dish meal
Serves : 2
Time taken : Under 20 minutes

2 portions soba noodles (about 250 gms)
Cook the noodles as per directions,remove and rinse in cold water and drain. Keep aside.

For dressing, in a jug, whisk together :
3 tbsp smooth peanut butter
2 tbsp toasted sesame oil
3 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp grated ginger
2 tsp finely grated orange zest
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 to 1 tsp red chilli powder
(Have a taste of the dressing to adjust the salt depending on the salt in the soy sauce. It's quite addicting. I must have taken several licks of this :)

Lightly steam 1 cup julienned beans and thin carrot sticks from 2 medium carrots OR Microwave for 3 minutes with pinch of salt and sprinkles of water.

Bringing it together
In a large bowl, toss the noodles with the steamed vegetables. Pour the dressing over the tossed noodles and toss well to coat evenly.
Top with diagonally sliced spring onion greens.

Serve warm or cold. You can prepare this in advance and serve it the following day so that the noodles can absorb all the flavours of the dressing. This kind of combination was very new to me, and the orangey-peanut butter dressing is something I want to make again very soon.

Weekend Breakfast Blogging # 21 is being hosted at 100% Microwave cooking and the theme is Microwave Breakfasts. Last date for entry is 30th April, 08. Event details here.

After I lost all the matter on the sidebar widgets, I've prepared an exclusive WBB Archives & Updates page - which links up to all the previous 20 editions, plus who's hosting next etc. Anyone who is interested in hosting, please leave a comment on the WBB page and I shall get back to you soon.

Savoury multigrain yeast pancakes

When yeast is used in pancake batter, it does away with the need for eggs, milk or baking powder. Kerala cuisine regularly uses yeast to make a variety of aapams.

These pancakes made from a mix of flours, can be made savoury or sweet. Since we are more the savoury breakfast kinds, I have used onions, green chillies and salt. You could easily replace this with brown sugar or jaggery and serve the pancakes with fruit compote or maple syrup.

Feel free to use up any flour you have. Sometimes, we have a little bit of a variety of flours left over. This is a great way to clean up the flours in your pantry. I would like to try this out with ragi and buckwheat flour along with the rice and whole wheat flour.

Savoury multigrain yeast pancakes
Category: Breakfast
Time taken: Around 20 minutes plus 1 hour standing time
Serves 2-3 people, number of pancakes depends on the thickness and size

1/2 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup chick pea flour
1/2 cup rice flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups water plus some more to adjust consistency
1 1/2 tsp instant dry yeast
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 onion sliced thin
2 green chillies
Oil to cook pancakes

  1. Mix all the flours and salt in a large bowl with a fitting lit.
  2. In a smaller bowl place the yeast with 1/2 cup hand-hot water and 1 tsp sugar. Cover and keep aside for 10 minutes until frothy and bubbling.
  3. Pour this activated yeast with another cup of water in the bowl with dry ingredients.
  4. Add the finely chopped chillies and sliced onions. Mix well and cover with a fitting lid. Keep aside for upto 1 hour, till the batter is risen and bubbly.
  5. Heat a greased non-stick or cast iron skillet over medium flame. Before the skillet gets very hot, pour a ladle full of batter and let it spread naturally. Do not spread out thinly with the ladle. Use a few drops of oil around the edges if necessary. Wait for 30 seconds to a minute until there are holes around the edges. Flip over and cook for another 30 seconds to a minute until the pancake is well cooked and golden brown.
  6. Serve hot with coriander-mint chutney or as it is.
Tasting notes
The pancakes were absolutely spongy and soft, and melted in the mouth, despite no butter, eggs or milk in the batter. That is the magic of yeast. I would love to try out a sweeter version of them with some chopped dried fruits, when I have friends for breakfast.

These pancakes are my entry for Srivalli's Dosa Mela
More pancakes, crepes and dosas on Saffron Trail

Mango pancakes
Breakfast pancakes
Onion Rava Dosai
Savoury pancakes with mushrooms and onions
Four lentil pancake (Adai)
Healthy date pancakes

The cornmeal and chickpea flour give these pancakes a golden yellow colour and this is my entry for LiveSTRONG with A Taste of Yellow at Winos and Foodies.

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