Handvo (Vegan) – Oven and stove top methods

This post was first written for a blogger friend, Xiaolu. During the process of migration and updation of the site I decided to share all my recipes in my new space on my site.

“Handvo” [haand – woe or aand-woe] is a savoury cake from the Western region of Gujarat. It is not traditionally a vegan dish but is easily adaptable. My version is quicker than the original version as I do not set aside the batter for fermentation. Instead I add baking powder to imitate the effect. Handvo makes a healthy, wholesome breakfast as it is a combination of lentils and rice. The original version calls for two tablespoon of wheat flour but since my daughter has allergies, my version is gluten free.

Recipe: Handvo – Savoury lentil and grains cake with oven method and stove top method
Serves 4


To soak overnight:
Rice – 4 tbsp + 1 tsp (61 g)
Brown rice flour – 4 tbsp + 1 tsp (35 g)
Split mung beans – 4 tbsp + 1 tsp (61 g)
Split bengal gram lentils – 4 tbsp + 1 tsp (61 g)
Husked black gram lentils – 4 tbsp + 1 tsp (61 g)
Vegan buttermilk – 3/4 cup + 1 tbsp (200 ml)
About 3 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice, from 2 small lemons

Spice mix:
Grated ginger – 1 tbsp grated ginger
Green chillies, chopped, or per taste – 2
Garlic cloves, or per taste, crushed lightly and peeled – 2
Cilantro (coriander) leaves, finely chopped – 5 tbsp.
Asafoetida (hing) – 1/8th tsp.
Vegetable or any neutral oil – 4-5 tbsp.
Grated bottle gourd / zucchini, loosely packed – 1 cup
Turmeric powder – 1/8th tsp.
Red chilli powder [optional] – 1/4th tsp.
Salt to taste
Sugar – 1 tbsp.

Gluten free, aluminium free baking powder – 1 level tsp.
A pinch of baking soda

Black mustard seeds – 1 tsp.
White sesame seeds – 1 tsp.
1 sprig of curry leaves

Chopped cilantro (coriander) leaves – 2 tbsp.
Fresh grated coconut [Optional]

An 8” square cake tin or jelly pan, if baking
A skillet, if using stove top method
Mixing bowl


Prepare the tin (if you are baking):
Heat a shallow wok. Add a Tbsp of oil. When hot, add the mustard seeds. When they splutter add sesame seeds. Stand back! Sesame seeds tend to jump about as they splutter. When lightly golden, remove wok and immediately add curry leaves. Pour this into your cake tin. Using a half cut potato rub the hot oil and seasonings all over the bottom of the pan. Also grease the sides with the same oil. Set aside.

Prepare the batter:
Soak the rice and lentils together overnight in sufficient water. Next morning drain the water, rinse till water runs clean, drain, and grind to a paste. To grind add 1/4 cup of the prepared buttermilk or more if needed, a tablespoon at a time. Stop the motor in between and push the lentils down the sides so that the blend is even. The batter should resemble pancake batter so try and add buttermilk sparingly. You can increase the liquid towards the end if needed.

Pour into a mixing bowl. Add the grated bottle gourd or zucchini. Set aside.

Run the ginger, green chillies, and garlic cloves together in a mixer or just pound together in a mortar. Add to the batter along with coriander leaves. Heat 2 Tbsp of oil and add asafetida to it. Pour this into the batter.

Add turmeric powder, salt and sugar. Mix the batter well. If thick adjust with more buttermilk till it attains the consistency of pancake batter.

Add baking powder and a pinch of baking soda. Mix first in figures of eight and then beat well so that the seasonings and leavening agents are uniformly distributed. Taste and check the salt.

Oven method:

Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees C [350 degrees F].

Pour batter into the prepared pan till it reaches half way up, carefully and evenly so that the seasonings are not pushed to the sides of the pan. Tap to even the surface. A jelly pan works best, but if you do not have one use a square cake pan. I also like to use a bundt pan as it makes cutting much easier.

Bake at 180 degrees C [350 degrees F] till the top starts browning, about 35-40 minutes. If the top is firm and browned the cake is done. If your oven has burn points, rotate half way through. If the batter starts browning in 15 minutes, reduce temperature to 160 degrees C [320 degrees F] and continue.

Remove and cool in pan for ten minutes before slicing. The cake tends to stick to the bottom and it is best to slice in the pan and remove with a pancake turner.

Stove top method:

Heat a skillet and season with mustard, sesame and curry leaves like you did earlier. Pour a thick layer of batter, about three ladles evenly. Level the surface without disturbing the seasoning.

Cover and cook on very low heat for about 7-10 minutes. With a flat spatula raise once corner and check whether browned underneath. If not cook a little more. Using a broad spoon and a broad pancake turner, carefully remove the cake and turn it over to cook the other side. Hold the cake on the top with one spoon while turning else it might break. Again cover and cook for the same time till the base is browned. Do not increase the heat.

Remove onto a plate. Cool for about 2-3 minutes before cutting into wedges.

Repeat with the rest of the batter. This will make 2 handvo cakes.

While serving garnish with extra seasoning and coriander leaves or fresh grated coconut. Serve with mint chutney or tamarind chutney. If its tea time you will not need the chutneys.

Recipe for vegan buttermilk:

I soak about 10 cashews in hot water till soft and blend to a fine paste. Thin it with warm water till it reaches the consistency of milk. Measure 1/2 cup and add lemon juice to make sour buttermilk. Alternatively, use fresh pressed coconut milk or any non-dairy milk of your choice, and add lemon juice. Set aside till needed. Taste and check for sourness. Adjust with more lemon juice as needed.

The cake will be dense and not rise as much as regular cakes. If using bottle gourd or zucchini the cake tends to be a little sticky and not spongy. I noticed that if I use onions or carrots the cake gets a spongy texture. I suppose it has something to do with the liquid in the gourd. You can also try finely chopped coriander, spinach or fenugreek leaves.

If you would like the cake really spicy add 1/2 a teaspoon of red chili powder alongwith salt. Substitute pearl millet flour or sorghum flour (4 Tbsp PLUS 1 tsp) instead of rice. I have reduced the quantity of the flour here because they are more dense than rice.

I met Xiaolu through flickr, through her incredible food photographs. Soon I realized that she is a treasure trove of varied talents and also an excellent baker with a liking for vegan bakes too! I am sure you will find her space as irresistible as I do. May I invite you all to join us at Xialou’s for tea and handvo?


Harini is a vegan food photographer, writer and recipe developer. She also loves feeding birds, reading, watching crime thrillers, and travelling amongst other things.

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  • Aishten

    Hi pic looks wonderful where is the recipe though 🙂 I am looking to make vegan handavo

    • Harini Prakash

      This was a guest post done on another friend’s (Xialou’s) site. I checked the post and found that you have correctly pointed out about the link. Thanks for the same. I have now updated it. Can you please click on the bold, hi-lighted link?

  • Sunshinemom

    Jyothi, thank you:). I hope I do justice to your words in my furthe r posts too!

    Ivy, am a bit low but will participate when I recover:).

  • Ivy

    Hi Harini. I met Xiaolu recently and read your guest post. Shall check out the event. I also have an event going on with original vegan recipes if you would like to check it out.

  • Jyothi

    a first timer at your blog, and absolutely loving the photographs! The one of the orange in the header is especially lovely! 🙂

  • Sunshinemom

    Xiaolu, I look forward to that too!

    Sweatha, Sangeeta, I am glad to be the one who did the intros:).

    Indie.Tea, thanks for visiting and leaving your thoughts:).

    Kankana, Welcome! Thanks for your lovely words:).

  • Sunshine And Smile

    dropped in from 6bittersweets. LOVED your recipe and glad to find your blog. You have a beautiful space 🙂 following you !!

  • Indie.Tea

    I shall the original post. This looks and sounds quite delicious!

  • sangeeta

    Thanks for introducing a terrific blog…
    Handvo is a favorite at my place too.

  • Curry Leaf

    wow,awesome. Thanks for introducing another excellent blogger. One napkin won't be enough it seems,atleast for me. Love the handvo as well.

  • Xiaolu

    Thanks so much for being such an amazing and gracious guest, my dear! It's been a pleasure getting to know you via Flickr and I look forward to a long friendship to come =D.

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