Handvo (pronounced /’haand-vo/) is a traditional vegetarian, vegan (see recipe note) and gluten-free Gujarati snack that can essentially be described as baked spicy lentil cakes made from a fermented batter mixed with spices and a vegetable such as zucchini, spinach or cabbage. It is a versatile snack that we often pack for road trips, weekend softball/baseball tournaments and ski trips. It is truly a healthy snack, loaded with protein from the lentils and packed with nutrition from the veggies.
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After coming home from our first trip to India with the kids, our minds are still reeling from all the sights, sounds and smells we experienced during our two week visit. Our most compelling and fascinating impression is that anything goes and all is fair game. Nothing is impossible in India. It is a place where a monkey can steal your Pepsi bottle, escape with it into a tree, bite into it with his teeth and drink it with no regard for anything or anyone. It is a country where it is absolutely ordinary to see, hear and smell monkeys, elephants, camels, cows, bulls, dogs and peacocks all in one day, all within one city block. It is a culture where 8 adults, 4 kids and a baby can squeeze into a ricksha, 11 people can sleep comfortably in a 500 sq. ft. flat, and 576 eggs can be transported on the back of a rickety bicycle.
It goes without saying that the culinary experience in India is no exception. From a pasta ladhi (street food) to Indo-Chinese dishes to a chaiwalla on every corner, we had such a wide array of food and drink to choose from. The kids actually fell in love with a dish that combines two of their favorites, chole and paneer. Chole Paneer consists of garbanzo beans cooked in a tomato and onion gravy, with the extra addition of paneer (a fresh cheese typically used in Indian cuisine).
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Khichdi is a traditional meal that is the ultimate comfort food for Indians, especially our family. Typically, khichdi is prepared with rice and lentils, spiced with turmeric, paprika and a hint of cinnamon and cloves. It is such a versatile dish that has many variations to suit the mood.
On days when anyone in the family is feeling under the weather, I make a light, fluffy khichdi in a porridge-like consistency to warm the heart and soothe the soul. After coming home from an out-of-town trip, our dinner consists of masala khichdi, made with a rice and lentil mix, vegetables such as onions, potatoes, zucchini and eggplant and spiced with paprika, laal marchu (red chili powder), turmeric and garam masala. It’s the perfect home-cooked meal that hits the spot after eating out for a few days.
On busy days, when we’re trying to juggle homework and taxi-ing the kids to and from gymnastics, softball, baseball and other after school activities, my go-to meal is Quinoa Khichdi. I add a protein supercharge to the traditional dish by including quinoa in the rice and lentil mix. 20 minutes in the pressure cooker and I am able to feed the family a nutritious meal that is packed with protein, fiber and healthy carbs.
Khichdi is typically served with a cool, refreshing drink called Chhaas. Chaas is made from homemade yogurt and flavored with coarsely ground roasted cumin seeds, salt and finely chopped cilantro.
Update: This Quinoa Khichdi can be made in the Instant Pot by modifying the directions in the recipe:’
- Your “vagar” is done on “Saute” mode on the Instant Pot.
- After adding the water, switch to “Multigrain” mode at 12 minutes.
- Let Instant Pot cool on Natural Release before opening lid.