Handvo is a Gujarati delicacy made with fermented rice and lentil batter, filled with the goodness of fresh vegetables, hot chili and tempered spices. This tasty savory dish has a crispy, golden brown crust on the exterior with a soft crumb inside. From a carb and protein rich breakfast to a tasty meal, its versatility makes this dish a wonderful addition to your food rotation. Handvo is also a perfect snack dish for potlucks and picnics.
Handvo does need some prepping, but the smile on your kids’ faces makes it worth the effort. The dish stores well and is a tasty choice for your weekly make ahead dinners.
Gujarati cuisine has a lot of delicious savory dishes you can relish as a snack or light meal. Handvo is one such fermented dish made with rice, mixed lentils, and lots of vegetables like bottle gourd, carrots, fresh herbs and greens. Spiced with green chilies and fresh ginger, tempered with mustard, cumin, and sesame seeds, the final dish is a foodie’s delight.
Handvo is much like Dhokla in the way it’s fermented and tempered, yet different in the use of ingredients and cooking process. You have myriad ways to make this hearty food. Cook handvo on the stovetop like a pancake and chilla or bake it into a savory cake in the oven.
Handvo has made the culinary leap from the home kitchen to ethnic restaurants. It has become a popular component of thali meals. The nourishing vegetable cake can be enjoyed as a meal with chutneys.
The traditional way to make handvo is making the batter from scratch. Grind a fresh batch of batter. Mix in curd or yogurt and let it ferment overnight. Add the vegetables, seasoning and tempering. And you have a satiating and delicious dish ready in 30 minutes or less.
Before kitchen appliances became common cooking tools, handvo was prepared in a sagdi (sigri) or clay pot over a coal stove. This gave the dish a smoky and earthy flavor. You can cook handvo in multiple ways – on the stovetop, in the oven, air fryer or in the Instant pot.
For a quicker way to make batter, use store bought handvo/ondhawa flour (ground rice and lentil mix), ferment it with yogurt, and follow the rest of the recipe.
How to make Handvo (stepwise photos)
Prepare rice and lentils batter
1. Rinse and soak 1 cup of rice, ¼ cup of tuar dal, ¼ cup of chana dal, 2 tablespoons urad dal and 2 tablespoons of yellow moong dal for 3-4 hours. You can also substitute tuar dal with chana dal or masoor dal. The other option is to replace moong dal with chana dal.
2. Drain the water and add the soaked rice and lentils to a blender or grinder.
3. Add ½ cup of curd/yogurt to the blender. Pour ½ cup water.
4. Blend into a smooth, yet slightly coarse and thick batter (should be like idli batter and pourable).
5. Transfer the batter to a large bowl. Cover and let it ferment overnight. You can also skip fermenting and use a leavening agent as I did below.
Prepare the vegetables
6. Peel the lauki (bottle gourd) and grate ¾ to 1 cup. Grate ½ to ¾ cup carrot. Finely chop 2 to 3 tablespoons of coriander leaves. Chop ¼ cup of baby spinach (palak) if using. Grate 1 tablespoon ginger and chop 1 to 2 green chilies.
7. You can bake this in the oven or in a pan on the stovetop. To bake in oven, preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) for at least 15 mins. Grease the bottom and sides of a 6-inch round or square baking pan with 1-2 teaspoons of oil. Or you can also use a cast iron skillet like the way I used below.
8. Add grated lauki, carrot, coriander leaves and baby spinach (optional). Next add ¾ to 1 teaspoon of salt, ¼ teaspoon of turmeric, ginger paste, chopped green chili, ¼ to ½ teaspoon red chili powder and 1 teaspoon of sugar. Also add 1/8 teaspoon hing. Stir well to combine.
Make the tempering
9. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a 6 or 7 inch cast iron skillet. Spread the oil to grease the skillet with a spoon including the sides. Reduce to low flame and add ¾ teaspoon of mustard and ½ teaspoon of cumin seeds. When they splutter, add 1 sprig curry leaves and 1 to 1 ½ teaspoon of sesame seeds. Stir for 15-20 seconds. While you perform this task, go ahead to the next step.
10. If you have not fermented the batter then add ¼ teaspoon of baking soda and pour 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. Or use 1 tsp Eno and 1 tbsp water. The mixture will get frothy. Mix the entire batter.
Bake the handvo in the oven
11. Set aside half of the tempering. Pour the prepared batter to the hot pan or the greased cake pan and spread gently only the top. Sprinkle the tempering all over on the top. Turn off the heat and bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes at 180 C or 350 F. To cook it on the stove top, scroll down to stovetop section.
12. Check the oven dish after 35 minutes. Depending on the oven, handvo takes 35-45 minutes to bake. Mine was done in 40 minutes. Insert a tester in the center. If it comes out clean, the dish is ready. For a crisper crust, broil for 2 minutes.
Cook the handvo on stovetop
13. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a pan or kadai on the stovetop. Reduce to medium flame and add ¾ teaspoon mustard seeds and ½ teaspoon cumin seeds. When they splutter, add 1 sprig curry leaves and fry until crisp.
14. Then add sesame seeds and stir. Spread all the ingredients all over the pan.
15. Pour the handvo batter as much as you want and spread it gently only on top. I poured more than half of the batter here. You can also make individual handvos with just 2 ladles of batter. Use a small pan in that case.
16. Cover and cook on a low heat for 5 to 7 minutes depending on the quantity of batter you poured and the kind of pan you use.
17. When the top layer becomes partially dry and the bottom layer turns golden brown, flip it gently.
18. Press down the handvo with the spatula all over and cook uncovered until the bottom is all cooked and golden and crisp.
19. Flip it back and cook for a few minutes until you get a really crisp and golden crust on the handvo. Remove this to a wired rack for cooling and then cut it. Repeat with the remaining batter to make more handvo.
- Use curd/yogurt to get the tangy flavor.
- Ferment the batter overnight for fluffy and tender vegetable cake.
- Add grated vegetables with moisture that add softness to the handvo. This includes bottle gourd or lauki, zucchini, carrots or pumpkin.
- Don’t add too much vegetable in the dish. Aim for 1 to 1½ cups of vegetables for this recipe.
- Bake or cook the dish within 5 minutes of adding baking soda or Eno. This enables the batter to retain air bubbles and give dish its lightness.
- You can make the savory bake in a square tin, a bundt pan or even as individual cakes in muffin tin or ramekins.
- Mix and match vegetables like corn, beet or cabbage to create fresh flavors. Use vegetables with higher water content.
- For a healthier version, you can use brown rice or millets.
Ingredients (US cup = 240ml )
- 1 cup rice
- ¼ cup chana dal (bengal gram)
- ¼ cup tuar dal (split pigeon peas or substitute with chana dal)
- 2 tablespoons urad dal (skinned black lentils)
- 2 tablespoons yellow moong dal (or substitute with chana dal or tuar dal)
- ½ cup curd (plain yogurt)
- ¾ to 1 cup bottle gourd (grated, lauki)
- ½ to ¾ cup carrots (grated)
- ¼ cup fresh coriander leaves (finely chopped)
- 1 tablespoon ginger paste
- 1 to 2 green chilies (or as needed)
- 1 teaspoon sugar (optional)
- ¾ to 1 teaspoon salt (adjust to taste)
- ⅛ teaspoon hing / asafoetida
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric
- ¼ to ½ teaspoon red chili powder (optional)
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda (optional, ferment batter to skip or use 1 tsp eno)
- ½ teaspoon lemon juice (optional, ferment batter to skip)
- 1 ½ to 2 tablespoons oil
- ¾ to 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
- ½ to ¾ teaspoon cumin seed (jeera)
- 1 to 1½ teaspoons sesame seeds
- Add rice and lentils to a large pot and rinse well a few times. Drain the water. Soak it in enough water for 3 to 4 hours.
- Drain the water and add the rice, lentils, plain yogurt/curd and ½ cup to a grinder jar.
- Blend to a smooth yet slightly coarse and thick batter (idli batter consistency). Add more water carefully if required, we want a thick batter.
- Cover and ferment overnight or skip the fermentation to use baking soda or eno.
- When you are ready to make the handvo, grate the vegetables and chop the greens. If you want to bake, preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) for at least 15 mins.
- Add the vegetables, salt, turmeric, ginger paste, hing, green chili, red chili powder and sugar to the batter. Stir well. Taste test and adjust the seasonings.
- Pour oil to a 6 or 7 inch skillet and heat it on a low heat. Add mustard and jeera seeds. When they splutter, add curry leaves. Fry until they turn crisp.
- Add the sesame seeds and spread them well all over the pan. (If you intend to bake then set aside half of the tempering.)
- While you perform the above step, add baking soda to the batter and pour lemon juice over it. The mixture will get frothy. Mix it well with the batter.
- Pour the batter to the hot skillet as much as you want. Gently spread the top evenly. (for baking, sprinkle the tempering we set aside all over on the top)
- To bake in oven: Turn off the stove and transfer the skillet to the oven and bake for 35 to 45 minutes until a tester inserted comes out clean. The baking time depends on the pan size. For a 6 to 7 inch skillet it takes 35 to 40 mins. For the top golden crust you may broil for 2 mins.
- Stovetop: Cover and cook on a low heat, until the top layer becomes almost dry and the bottom layer turns golden brown. This takes about 5 to 7 mins, flip it gently. The cook time depends on how much batter you pour and the size of your pan.
- Cook the other side until crisp and golden. Flip again and cook on a medium heat until crusty.
- Repeat with the remaining batter to make handvo.
- Remove the handvo to a wired rack and cool before cutting it. Serve with chutney or any sauce.
Alternative quantities provided in the recipe card are for 1x only, original recipe.
For best results follow my detailed step-by-step photo instructions and tips above the recipe card.
NUTRITION INFO (estimation only)
© Swasthi’s Recipes