Lentil & cornmeal bread (Handvo)

June 15, 2011
3 Ratings
  • Makes ~ 20 pieces
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. —Panfusine

What You'll Need
  • 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.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • susan g
    susan g
  • Sagegreen
  • wssmom
  • boulangere
  • Panfusine
A biomedical engineer/ neuroscientist by training, currently a mommy blogger on a quest for all things food - Indian Palate, Global perspective!

11 Reviews

susan G. March 16, 2012
This really was a treat! Mis-scheduling caused me to wait 24 hours to use the batter; I used cauliflower for the zucchini; I cut the oil and the sesame seeds in half -- but I think I got the essentials. It was good fresh, and good today reheated. I'm looking forward to more. And so attractive...
Panfusine March 16, 2012
Thanks Susan g..so glad you liked it! it freezes really well, just wrap the frozen squares with a wet paper towel & microwave it
Sagegreen June 16, 2011
How interesting. I will have to look for handvo in our area to see if we have it. Thanks.
Panfusine June 16, 2011
Thank you Sagegreen!
wssmom June 16, 2011
A trip to the local Indian grocery is coming this weekend, and I can't wait to score some handvo flour mix! This will be awesome!
Panfusine June 16, 2011
:-) !!
susan G. June 15, 2011
Thoughts about gluten issues: while some people, like my husband, are born with it (his father had it), some people develop it later in life. One theory is that the SAD (Standard American Diet) rarely includes grains other than wheat, and the overload can lead to intolerance. Other cultures are not so wheat (and dairy)-centric.
This looks amazing. Like boulangere, I have a shopping list next to my computer, ready for the next trek to the Indian market.
Panfusine June 15, 2011
while I'm sure it will work with only cornmeal, but this handvo flour mix is a godsend in terms of the proteins it adds to the whole dish. I use the mix for making crepes as well. Interestingly, the mix is not as readily available in India as it is here, in the US.
boulangere June 15, 2011
Thanks to you, Pauljoseph, Kitchen Butterfly, and many others, I've started a list of things to look for when I go to visit the son (Reno) and the daughter (Boulder), where ethnic market offerings are so rich. Thank you for expanding my horizons so. Thank you also for the tip about a wonderful author.
Panfusine June 15, 2011
My pleasure boulangere..Your enthusiasm & encouragement is so motivating!
boulangere June 15, 2011
As is your generosity with your postings of much-loved foods!