Well, am back 🙂 And am glad to see my blog is still alive. Somehow, things were so exciting in my non-blog life since the last few months that I did not feel like leaving all the good times aside to blog. Also, as Garfield says, I was motivated to do nothing.
What kept me super busy were friends, cousins, nieces, nephews, work, attending parties, thinking about parties, planning parties, hosting parties and the works. Among them were a few farewell parties for my favourite aunt and uncle, who I call my second set of parents. They just moved to Kerala a couple of months ago and are in the process of checking out whether retirement life would suit them better in God’s own country.
My aunt is an extraordinary person. Am yet to meet a better party host and a funnier singer 😀 She would break into a song at the drop of a hat, in the middle of a conversation if she found a matching word or lyric in the conversation, however serious the topic. Younger to my mom by five years, kunjamma, as I call her, is the epitome of life. On reading about Angelina Jolie’s double mastectomy, I coudn’t help but spare a minute to think about the worst phase in the entire family’s lives in 2008, when kunjamma was diagnosed with breast cancer. In spite of severe pain during chemotherapy, she remained cheerful and optimistic.
During those days, I spent all of my days-off from work to be with her, sometimes even cooked for her at her place. But how could I have possibly impressed an excellent cook? Well, I tried 🙂 When I was younger, Kunjamma used to drop in on her way to work and leave a dabba full of the yummiest handvo ever. My love for this Gujarati snack is partly associated with the memory of being surprised with this delicious dish by Kunjamma when I least expected her to visit. Need I mention that her visit brought about unique joy in itself? Amid today’s busy lives and daily soaps, it is rare, very rare, to find unannounced visitors who are a delight. Now that Kunjamma and Kochachan are settled down South, I truly miss the anticipation of answering the door.
So, these days I bake this wonderful Handvo, the way my health-conscious Kunjamma baked specially for me 🙂
1 cup rice flour
1 cup mixed daal like tuvar, urad, chana
1/4th cup buttermilk
1 cup dudhi or bottlegourd, grated
1 tbsp turmeric
1 tbsp red chilli powder
1 tbsp sugar/jaggery
4 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
1 tsp baking powder or fruit salts
salt to taste
oil to grease cake pan
Ingredients for the tadka:
Wash and soak the rice and mixed daal for at least four hours. Drain water from the lentils and rice, add buttermilk and coarsely grind. Keep this covered overnight to ferment. You can also buy ready Handvo flour, which is widely available.
The following morning, turmeric, red chilli powder, ginger-garlic paste, sugar, salt, baking powder or fruit salt and the grated bottle gourd/dudhi). Mix well. The batter should be fluffy. Grease a cake pan and pour batter.
For the tadka, heat oil in a small skillet and add mustard seeds, asafoetida and sesame seeds. Evenly spread this over the batter. Bake at 180 degrees C (350 degrees F) for 35-40 minutes or till a golden, crispy crust forms on the top. Once done, let it cool, cut into cubes and serve.