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This Spicy Cake Has A Savory Secret

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If you’re a savory breakfast fan, then you know the struggle. Brunches that offer French toast smothered in syrup, or fruit-filled tea cakes. Or those serve-yourself spreads with yogurt parfaits and sugary cereals. Even grab-and-go meals skew sweet with granola bars and smoothies. Eggs or avocado toast are great alternatives, but can present a challenge for anyone who wants to make meals ahead of the morning rush.

Photo by Julia Gartland

For a vegetable-packed (yet portable!) start to your day, turn these snack cakes from food writer Asha Shivakumar’s latest cookbook, Masala & Meatballs. Inspired by a popular savory cake called handvo from the region of Gujarat, India, Shivakumar likes to bake the treats for breakfast.

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“I almost always make them in muffin pans to send them off in my boys’ lunch boxes with some dip,” she says. “It’s full of vegetables, and tastes as good hot as at room temperature.”

Whether you bake (or steam) one loaf or loads of muffins, the mixture contains tons of fresh vegetables, like carrots, bell peppers, cabbage, and peas. Combined with a sesame crust, each bite includes both a refreshing crunch and bright colors.

To complement the spicy heat of the green chiles, try a drizzle of sauce or swoop of spread. We like the idea of a slice with green chutney, pesto, or peanut sauce, but go ahead and experiment with what your savory heart desires.

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Vegetable-Stuffed Snack Cakes

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Serves 6–8
  • 1 cup (120g) coarse semolina flour
  • 1/2 cup (60g) chickpea flour
  • 1 cup (240g) yogurt
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon (8g) baking powder, divided
  • 2 teaspoons (12g) salt, divided
  • 1 tablespoon (15ml) fresh lemon juice
  • 1 small carrot
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 2 tablespoons (28g) ghee
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon asafetida
  • 1 inch (2.5cm) piece ginger, grated
  • 3 green chiles, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup (70g) peas
  • 1/2 cup (40g) shredded cabbage
  • 1/2 cup (8g) cilantro
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) warm water
  • 1/3 cup (43g) sesame seeds
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What's your go-to savory breakfast? Or are you team sweet all the way?

Tags: handvo, muffins, snack cake, peppers, carrots, cabbage, peas