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Handvo (Handwa), a Gujrati Savoury Cake
Handvo (Handwa), a Gujrati Savoury Cake

Devi Patel

Handwa is a savoury cake from Gujarat, India. Traditionally, it is made in a special Handwa pot, but can easily be made in a cake tin, baked in an oven. If you have an Angel cake tin, that will be ideal. Serves 10-12.

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For the handwa batter
1 kg. bottle gourd or dudhi or lauki (you can use courgettes or zucchini
600 gm. handwa flour*, it is easier to buy it ready made
30 ml. cooking oil
Boiling water
20 ml. yoghurt (dahi)
2 green chillies (adjust to taste), finely chopped
1 dessert spoon full of grated or finely chopped ginger
2 level tsp. turmeric powder
Salt to taste
1/2-1 tsp. red chillies (adjust to taste. Remember, you also have green
1/4 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. ENO or other fruit salt, like Andrews
50 gm. sesame seeds or til (white or brown)
For the Tarka:
60 ml or 4 tbsp. oil
1 heaped tsp black mustard seeds or rai
1 tsp fenugreek or methi seeds
1 tsp. ajwain or carom seeds (ajmo)
*Handwo Flour; 100 gm. tuvar dal (arhar dal or pigeon peas) + 200 gm. rice + 30 gm. urad dal, ground together to a coarse, semolina like consistency.


1.Mix enough boiling water into the handwa flour, enough to just cover it. Leave
3.Heat oven to 200°C/400°F/ Gas mark 6.
4.Add yoghurt, green chillies, ginger, turmeric, salt, sugar and fruit salt.
5.Mix together.
6.Add grated bottle gourd/Dudhi/lauki and mix well.
7.Heat tarka oil in a ladle or pan. Add all seeds. When they splutter, pour
8.over the mix.
9.The resulting batter should be of a thick pouring consistency, like a cake batter. Add water, only if necessary. Bottle gourd has a lot of water in it.
10.Grease the handwa dish with oil and pour the batter into it.
11.Sprinkle the sesame seeds or til on top of the batter.
12.Cook in the centre of oven for 10 minutes.
13.Reduce oven temperature to 150°C/300°F/Gas mark 3 Sprinkle another tablespoon of oil on top. This helps to keep it moist.
14.Cook for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, keeping an eye on it after 1 hour.
15.To test if it is cooked fully, insert a sharp knife or skewer into the cake. It should come out moist but clean, with no batter sticking to it.
16.Cover with a plate and allow to cool completely.
17.Turn it out onto a flat surface and cut into serving size pieces.
18.Serve with Green Mango Chutney.

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