Known for its economics, entrepreneurship and off late political leadership, Gujarat has a lot to offer in terms of food. The most common myth with Gujarati cuisine is that it is always sweet and all Gujaratis love some sugar in their food. The cuisine is much more than that and ideally Gujarati cuisine can be divided in to 4 aspects: Saurashtra cuisine, Central Gujarat cuisine, South Gujarat cuisine and North Gujarat cuisine. All of them have remarkable influences on an average Gujarati meal or thali as its better known as now.
South Gujarat food is on the spicier side with most of the dishes having a hearty mix of chillies and other assorted spices. The famous ‘surtiundhiyu’ cooked in an earthen pot below the surface comes from South Gujarat. North Gujarat and Saurashtra possess a far more rustic feel to their cuisines and the food is closer to the rural backgrounds. North Gujarat also has Kutch which has its unique taste and is also influenced by Sindhi cuisine. Central Gujarat includes the contemporary Gujarati cuisine amalgamated with the old school dishes. This also has the two biggest cities Ahmadabad and Vadodra. Ahmedabad has two huge influences in the food, the Jain/Vaishanvite influence and the Islamic influence. In the by lanes of the old cities this is quite evident, where the non-vegetarian cuisine in the old city is primarily influenced by the Mughalai and Islamic heritage, the vegetarianism in the city (lots of it) come from the former influence. Vadodra on the other hand although is predominantly good Gujarati fare, has some food influenced by Marathi cuisine since it was ruled by the Gaikwads once.
Some of the famous Gujarati foods include undhiyu, khaman, khandvi and so forth. An interesting thing about Gujarati thalis are that they would always have around 10 or more things prepared. Most Gujaratis love some ‘farsan’ with their food, which are basically different kinds of side dishes prepared with mostly quite basic ingredients. They include khaman, khandvi, kachori and so forth. Another unique aspect of Gujarati cuisine is the now famous sweetness in subzis and dals. Traditional Gujarati dal will have a little jaggery put in and will also have chilli and kokum. This gives it a unique sweet, sour and a slight spicy tinge. In fact Gujarati cuisine has reinvented the concept of sweet and sour foods by the use of kokum. Khaman, Dhokla (yes in Gujarat, khaman and dhokla are two different things); khandvi and other things are quite popular and are used as side dishes or appetizers. Let us know about a dish which is a complete meal and quite easy to make. It is known all over Gujarat as ‘Handvo’.
The concept of this dish is that it includes all the necessary components of a meal namely dal, rice and veggies. Thus it is not only a complete meal, but also very nutritious. Although this has been made in Gujarat for a long time, with new electrical appliances after the 80′s and the 90′s it is much easier to make.
So without further ado here is the recipe of a good and delicious handvo:
- 1/2 cup Toovar dal (arhar)
- 3 tbsp. urad dal
- 3 tbsp. chana dal
Rice and Curd
- 1 cup rice
- 1/2 cup sour curd (depending on consistency.. make sure that the curd is a little lumpy and it has to be sour)
- 1 ½ cup of doodhi (bottle gourd) (it has to be grated) (If you want to create a mix veggie handvo u can also put carrots, green beans, cauliflower, tomatoes, and some potatoes — (all finely chopped and grated)
Oil and Spices
- Around 6-8 tbsps of oil
- 1 tsp sugar
- 3 tsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp turmeric (haldi)
- 1 tsp green chilli paste
- 1 tsp ginger-garlic paste
- ½ tsp bi-carb for the salty texture
Salt (as required)
- 1 tsprai (mustard seeds)
- A pinch of hing (asafetida)
- 1 tsp til (sesame seeds)
Serves around: 6-8 people
- Mix all the dals and soak them with rice for around 5-6 hours
- After the rice and dals have adequately puffed up; blend them to a flowy consostuency.
- Mix this mixture with the yogurt and let it sit for fermentation. Preferably overnight with normal yogurt but with sour yogurt 6-7 hours should suffice
- Add all the spices with 4 tbps of oil and the bottle gourd and mix it with the mixture
- Take a quarter of this mixture (half if you have a huge tray) and put into an oven baking tray. Make a thick layer and pour about half of the pan because it will puff up. Make sure the tray is adequately greased with oil
- For the tadka, take 3 tsps of oil and put the mustard seeds and let them simmer
- Once they are simmered add the hing and sesame seeds and pour over the batter.
- After pre heating the oven; bake this for around 35 minutes till its golden brown
- Repeat the procedure for more batches
The process of cooking the dals and the curd is long but you just have to mix it overnight, and put the handvo to bake before your meal; it will come out perfectly.
Handvo tastes the best with Gujarati mango pickles, lemon pickles (if you like a little zing), green chutneys and Sugar (since handvo will be on the sour side sugar will taste good),
All these four and a glass of masala chaas and it will be a nice filling Gujarati meal.
As I mentioned before you can always add more veggies and make it a veggie handvo in that case proportion it against the bottle gourd and some increase in the dals.