Savoury courgette, seed and curry leaf cake

Savoury courgette, seed and curry leaf cake

I Love India
8 generous wedges or 10 smaller squares
Martin Poole

This Gujarati favourite – handvo – has crispy edges and a soft, vegetable-laden interior. It is normally made from lentils and rice, ground into a paste and fermented overnight, but this is an instant version. It is packed full of vegetables, as well as protein from the chickpea flour, flax and pumpkin seeds. You can change the vegetables, and leave out one or both of the seeds if you don’t have them at home. This would be eaten as a snack with a cup of tea, but it makes a lovely lunch with some salad, or is great on a picnic, or even as a savoury breakfast. Traditionally, this was always made on the hob but most Gujuratis I know now bake this in the oven as it is an easier and more efficient way to do it. I sometimes miss the crust, so add those bits in later, under a grill or on the hob.


Quantity Ingredient
165g fine or medium-grain semolina
95g chickpea flour
1 tablespoon milled flaxseed
120g plain yogurt
1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
10g finely grated root ginger
70g frozen peas, defrosted
1/2-1 indian green finger chilli, finely chopped
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
200ml water
1 courgette
31/2 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus more for the skillet or tin
11/2 teaspoons brown mustard seeds
11/2 teaspoons cumin seeds
small fistful curry leaves
21/2 tablespoons sesame seeds
1 tablespoon sunflower or pumpkin seeds
1/3 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda


  1. Mix together the semolina, chickpea flour, milled flaxseed, yogurt, onion, ginger, peas, chilli, salt, turmeric and most of the water. Allow to rest for 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Oil a 23cm springform baking tin and line the base with parchment paper.
  3. Coarsely grate the courgette, squeeze out the excess liquid and add to the mix. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.
  4. Heat the oil in a small frying pan and add the mustard seeds and cumin seeds. Once the mustards seeds are popping, add the curry leaves, sesame seeds and sunflower or pumpkin seeds and cover the pan, as these will puff up and jump. Once the sesame seeds are golden, take off the heat and add two-thirds of the contents of the frying pan to the batter. Adjust the water if necessary until the batter has a thick pouring consistency. Stir in the bicarbonate of soda.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared baking tin, cover with foil and bake in the oven for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and continue to bake for 10 minutes, or until the batter is cooked through and a cocktail stick (toothpick) comes out dry. Take out of the oven. For a crispy top, brush and scatter over the remaining oil and seeds and place the cake on the upper oven shelf for a few minutes. It should be a lovely deep golden.
  6. Cool a little before slicing and serve as it is, or with Tangy Herb Chutney. If you are making this in advance, you can always toast the upper side in a frying pan until golden and crisp and scatter over the remaining seeds at that point.
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