Spicy Handvo

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 🙂

handvoHandvo, as Kunjamma makes it
(Baked Savoury Lentils)

Ingredients:

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
coriander leaves
sesame seeds
salt to taste
oil to grease cake pan

Ingredients for the tadka:

mustard seeds
sesame seeds
asafoetida
oil

Method: handvo1

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.

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Masala French Fries

About two weeks ago, we went out to watch a movie after work. As the movie was to start at 10, we had little time to go home or out and have dinner so we decided to eat at the multiplex itself. Being a fairly new and the best multiplex in town, we expected the food to be above average.  However, the first bite into the Mexican salsa sandwich and it threatened to take off the flavour of the much looked-forward to movie :-/  The french fries were just okay and Prash couldn’t eat the chilly cheese toast beyond the first slice. Well, that inspired me to write about the masala french fries that I frequently make. The cheese chilly toast and my version of the mexican salsa sandwich follow as well, all dedicated to the brilliant movie and the super-excellent performance by my favourite actress since 2005: Vidya Balan!

Masala French Fries

A slightly healthier, Indian version of oven-baked french fries…

Ingredients

Potatoes 1 kg

2 small Onions chopped

1 Tomato chopped

2 Green Chillies chopped

Coriander Leaves chopped

Salt

Pepper

Chaat Masala

Red Chilli Powder

Parmesan cheese (optional)

How to go about it:

Wash and remove skin of the potatoes. Cut them into sizes of 1/4th inch thickness. Remember, if the potatoes are cut into thick slices, they may not crispy fry. Boil the sliced potatoes in some water and one tablespoon of salt till they are 75% done. Boiling the potatoes before frying or baking them will get you crispy, golden french fries. Drain the potatoes and transfer them to a bowl. Drizzle some salt and olive oil before you bake them in a 450 degree F oven for 25 minutes, flipping twice until crisped, cooked through and golden.In another bowl, mix together the vegetables, add fries, pepper, red chilli powder and chaat masala. You can also add some parmesan cheese and send them back into the oven for 5 more minutes. Serve hot with some ketchup and green chilli sauce. It’s a favourite and easiest-to-cook starter during parties at my place!