Lentil & cornmeal bread (Handvo)

By • June 15, 2011 13 Comments

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Author Notes: Gluten allergies were really not well known in India and hence there were never really concerted efforts to outline a specific cuisine catering to this genre. As the awareness spreads, its well worth the effort to create recipes for individuals who have to deal with this unpalatable card. After all as much as one would like to minimize the effects of the allergy, there is also the longing for a taste of familiar comfort foods from ones own cuisine.
My first taste of this gujrati classic, Handvo, was at a book signing and cooking demo event by Tarla Dalal, possibly one of India's greatest cookbook authors. Her interpretation of Handvo was by using buckwheat flour, cooked on a stove top in a covered cast iron pan. It was love at first bite. While I could never get that particular recipe right, (sometimes, you just have to cherish the memory of that single morsel passed around & leave it at that), my 'americanized' version made with cornmeal and handvo flour is a favorite at home.
Handvo (or 'ondhwa') flour is a mixture of cream of rice and various lentils, tuvar (pigeon peas), Mung & channa (chickpea), all ground up to the consistency of cornmeal. Its readily available in most Indian grocery stores. Combined with grated fresh zucchini, Handvo makes a tasty savory snack. Although Asafetida is an ingredient in the original dish, I've omitted it since it often contains wheat flour, a source of gluten.

Makes ~ 20 pieces

  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1 cup 'handvo' flour mix (available at most Indian grocery stores)
  • 1 packet active dry yeast
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon double acting baking powder
  • 2 cups shredded zucchini
  • 2 inch piece ginger, peeled and grated
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 serrano chiles
  • 1.5 - 2 teaspoons Salt
  • 1/4 cup fresh dill leaves chopped
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons whole coriander seeds, lightly crushed to split them in half
  • 1/4 cup white sesame seeds
  1. Combine the handvo flour and cornmeal with the yeast, buttermilk & water. Mix well and set aside for about 2 hours. (the mix needs to be slightly bubbly)
  2. In the mean time, combine the ginger, garlic & serrano chiles in a mortar & pound to obtain a paste.
  3. Line a 13 x 9 baking tin with parchment paper. Ensure that the edges of the paper do not stick over the walls of the pan. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  4. Add the shredded zucchini along with the chili-ginger-garlic paste, baking powder, salt and dill leaves to the flour mix and combine all the ingredients. Ensure that the dill leaves are evenly dispersed throughout the batter.
  5. heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil. When nearly smoking hot add the coriander seeds. Stir in the oil till they turn a golden brown. add to the batter and stir to disperse the seeds evenly.
  6. Pour the batter into the baking tin and jiggle the pan slightly to ensure that the batter spreads in an even layer.
  7. Heat the remaining oil and add the sesame seeds. on a low-medium heat, allow the sesame to pop and turn a light brown.
  8. Pour the oil and sesame seeds over the batter, spread to disperse the seeds evenly over the surface of the batter.
  9. Bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes, turning the pan halfway through the baking process.
  10. Remove the baking pan from the oven. Turn the oven up to 'broil' and place pan under the broiler flame under constant watch, till the top turns golden.
  11. Remove from broiler and allow to cool on a cooling rack. When cool, cut into squares and serve. This bread freezes well. Simply reheat in the microwave and serve. Serving suggestions: Sweet & sour tamarind chutney or cilantro mint chutney.

More Great Recipes: Snacks|Side Dishes|Bread, Rolls & Muffins|Lentils|Zucchini

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