Savory Lentil Cake - Handvo
Updated: Sep 9
Crispy lentil cake filled with goodness of veggies and spices. A perfect tea-time or breakfast recipe. Suitable for gluten-free diets.
I grew up in Gujarat, which is the western state of India. Gujarat has its own cuisine, which is traditionally simple and uses some basic spices. Most recipes have a very neat balance of sweet and sour and that blend gives the dishes its unique flavor. Gujarati food (as its called) is very delicious and it is one of my favorite cuisines. Many of the dishes from Gujarat are very close to my heart and I call them comfort food. Handvo is one such dish. It brings back memories of childhood days when my mom used to make this for me as an evening snack when I used to come back from school.
This savory cake is filled with flavor and texture. Its moist from the inside but crispy on the outside. Its rich in goodness of lentils, rice and vegetables more like a meal in itself. I have made this the traditional way, by soaking the lentils and rice and fermenting them overnight. But you can do shortcuts. Just dry roast the lentils and rice separately and grind them into a fine powder and store it. You can use any vegetable of your choice, but I prefer squash since it gives the cake a moist texture.
It is traditionally eaten as breakfast or en evening snack with chaas (yogurt drink tempered with spices and ginger) and coriander chutney.
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 50 minutes
Soaking and fermenting time: 8 hours+
1 cup rice (use parboiled rice if available)
½ cup Tuvar Dal
1/4th cup Chana Dal
1/4th cup Green Moong Dal (split green gram)
1/4th cup Urad Dal (Split black lentil)
1/2 cup sour yogurt ( I used )
2 tbsp ginger – green chilli paste
2 cups of grated zucchini or squash
½ tbsp of turmeric powder
1 tsp, red chili powder
1 tbsp, coriander-cumin seed powder
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp sugar
2 tsp salt
½ tsp of baking soda
2 tbsp Oil
1 tbsp Mustard Seeds
1 tbsp Carom seeds
1 tbsp white sesame seeds
10 curry leaves
1/4 tsp asafoetida
Wash and soak all the dals and rice in 5 cups of water for atleast 4 to 5 hours. Drain and keep aside. Blend the dals in a mixer to a smooth paste with the help of some water (about ½ cup). Add water in small batches to ensure that the rice and daal get grinded and the mixture is not watery.
Once the mixture is well blended, add the yogurt and salt. Mix well and cover and keep aside to ferment overnight in warm place. (In cold temperatures keep the mix, covered in an oven and kept oven light on).
Next day, in a large bowl, mix the grated squash, ginger-green chili paste, lemon juice, sugar and the rest of the spices. Do not add baking soda yet.
At this point, pre-heat the oven to 200 C.
Now, add the fermented batter mix into the bowl and mix well. Adjust for salt. Now add baking soda and fold it into the batter. Do not stir the mixture for long.
In a pan, heat oil for seasoning. Once its medium hot, add the mustard seeds and let them splutter. Now add carom seeds and sesame seeds, asafetida and curry leaves. You could also add green chili or dry red chili at this step. Turn off the heat.
Pour half of the tempering in the vegetable lentil mix. Lightly fold the tempering with the batter.
Take a cake pan or a deep baking dish and coat it with oil. Now add the mixture into the baking pan.
Slowly pour the rest of the tempering over the batter in the pan and spread it evenly in a thin layer with a back of a spoon.
Bake at 200 C. Depending on the size of the pan the cooking time will vary. A small cake pan will take about 30 minutes and a large pan will take about 50 minutes.
The top of the cake will get nicely browned once the cake is done. Insert a toothpick to see if it is cooked through.
Take the pan out of the oven and let it cool for about 15 minutes. Turn it out with the brown side up on a serving tray and serve with a chutney of your choice.
You can make the mix before hand and store in airtight container. Dry roast the lentils and rice for 5-7 minutes and dry grind them into a powder and use it whenever.
You can also make this cake on a thick-bottomed pan like a cast iron pan.
You can use any vegetable, carrots, peas or spinach. Squash is traditional.