When I cook dishes that are not native to me (those that I didn't grow up eating), I always start with an analysis of similarities and differences between the new dish and something I am familiar with. If you think about it, Handvo has some resemblance to the South Indian Dosa/Dose or adai. After all, ingredients are similar (proportions though vastly different) and traditionally it is pan fried with an oil base which is the same concept of uttappa(m)s, right? I am glad someone in a Gujarati house hold figured out how to make a Handvo with rice and lentils while some one down South made a Dose because both are equally welcome in my kitchen :-). I will not go any farther on this though because if DD had her say, she would definitely do a 'Mom, stop comparing things weirdly', because according to her, I killed the fun of Harry Potter series by constantly quoting story lines from Indian epics such as Mahabharata and Bhagavata :-). For the record, I love the Harry Potter books. It is a different story that she is still hooked to HP and keeps reading the books over & over again.
But I guess the point I was trying to make above is that cooking is more an art than measurements, there are techniques you need to be aware of but once you know the basic process, every cook can weave their individual magic wands and make the dish unique. BTW, that is the excuse I use every time one of my preparations falls short against nammamma's :-)
If you are entertaining friends or family, think about Handvo as one of the starters since the batter can be prepped ahead of time. All you need to do before the party starts is to pour the batter into the pans and bake it. I have seen the Handvo flour in Indian grocery stores here but have never tried it myself. I prefer my old fashioned way of grinding the batter at home.
What do you need to make Handvo?
Makes 2 - 8 inch pans
1 cup rice - any long grained rice will work, I typically use Sona masoori variety.
1/4 cup toor/tuvar dal or togari bele
1/4 cup chana dal or kadle bele
1/8 cup masoor dal or moong dal - I used masoor dal this time
1 Tblsp urad dal or black gram
3 cups tightly packed grated bottle gourd
5 green chilies - adjust to taste
1/4 cup sour yogurt - a day old works best
1 inch long piece ginger root
1 Tblsp grated coconut - fresh or frozen - optional
1 Tsp sugar
1 Tsp salt
1 Tblsp oil
1 Tsp mustard
1/4 Tsp asafoetida
4-5 finely chopped curry leaves
1 Tsp red chili powder - optional
1 Tsp white sesame seeds
Optional - chopped cabbage, chopped cilantro, grated carrot - I haven't used any of these this time though I usually load up my Handvo with finely chopped cabbage or grated carrots.
- Wash and soak rice and the dals together in water for about 6 hours.
- Rinse, drain the rice and dals and grind it with green chilies and ginger to a coarse paste with as little as 2 Tblsp of water.
- Wash, peel and grate bottle gourd (thick grates is preferred here) - see notes for additional vegetables
- Add the bottle gourd grating along with yogurt, salt and sugar into the ground mixture, set it for fermenting over night or atleast 6-8 hours. - see notes for fermentation tips
- The batter would have thinned down a little with the yogurt and bottle gourd juice and will look fluffy and porous with fermentation, mix grated coconut into the batter. It is important to use as little water as needed while grinding.
- Heat the oil, add mustard, chopped curry leaves and asafoetida. Let mustard sizzle & pop, switch off the stove, add the red chili powder, mix it well into the oil. Pour everything into the batter and mix well.
- At this time, taste the batter to check and adjust sugar, salt, red chili powder per taste. you can add more green chili-ginger paste at this time if you like.
- Spray 2 - 8 inch pans with cooking spray, pour the batter to 1/2-3/4 inch thickness and sprinkle sesame seeds all over.
- Pre heat the oven to 350F, bake the Handvo for 30 minutes. a toothpick or knife pushed in the center of the pan should come out clean.
- Switch the oven to broil (high) and broil for 3 minutes to get a nice brown coating on top. Keep an eye on the Handvo during broil as oven settings differ and it can burn the dish in a matter of minutes.
- Let the Handvo stand for a couple of minutes, cut wedges and serve it with coriander or mint chutney or ketchup as a tea time snack.
- If you are adding additional vegetables, make sure all of them together make 3 packed cups. Keep bottle gourd to atleast 2 cups so you get the right consistency of batter. You can squashes or cucumbers for a different flavor.
- The Handvo batter needs to be fermented well, if you are in a hurry and do not have overnight waiting time, go ahead and add 1/2 Tsp of cooking soda into the batter and leave it for about 30 minutes before baking.
- Addition of coconut makes the Handvo lighter, but this is a personal preference. skip it if you don't want to use it.
- Broiling the Handvo at the end is important to get the crispy layer on top, but keep a close watch during the broil cycle.
- The batter should not be ground very smooth, the texture should be a little grainy.
- Do not pour the batter thinner than 1/2 inch as it changes the texture of the finished product and makes it chewy.
- Reheat Handvo pieces in the conventional or toaster oven to get it to taste as good as new.