Watermelon Rind Handvo can taste as good as a doodhi/bottle gourd Handvo would be an understatement!! Believe me it is tastes excellent or even better than doodhi Handvo. I never knew watermelon rind can give such great results. As a matter of fact, I have never cooked with watermelon rind ever in my life. It is an ingredient we usually frowned upon. It always made us question the use of it!!! Honestly, had I not embarked upon this journey of documenting the foods and cooking traditions of Gujarat, I would have never tried my hands on foods and ingredients that were never part of my community’s cooking space and the watermelon rind has never came close to our vocabulary of ingredients. But when you have taken up the task to talk to the world about the food practices prevalent in your homeland it is difficult to ignore the frugal yet prevalent ones!! In fact that is what I enjoy doing the most, focusing the ones those are otherwise ignored. The practice of using watermelon rind as a hero ingredient is highly prevalent with the Gujarati Jains whose basic principle with cooking is reduce as much waste as possible. They have been very clever in cooking with the skins and peels of banana and ridge gourd, washing the mango seeds to make some lip-smaking Fajeto/mango kadhi, cook with papad and fruits like guava and banana!! Very clever use of the limited variety fruits, vegetables and greens that are kosher to them. The more I learn and explore the more I respect and appreciate the ingenious practices.
A little research showed me how wisely the watermelon rind has been used and made part of the mainstream food preparations like dhokla, muthiya, thepla, curry and handvo. Summers are times when watermelons are abound, along with the mangoes watermelons are consumed almost every other day. After we have chopped the flesh the off white rind can be grated or cubed and treated as a vegetable to cook with. While cooking with it I have realized you can be very conveniently used in lieu of doodhi/bottle gourd in the dhokla, thepla, moothiya etc. The high water content in the rind gives the much needed moistness to these foods just like bottle gourd or cabbage would do! I tried making Handva with the watermelon rind as a safe bet as Handvo is a family favorite. I have followed the same method that I would if I were making a normal Handvo using bottle gourd and the Handvo flour I have used is the one that I make at home. These days we have switched to adding soda-bi-carb or Eno to the Handvo batter and skip the soaking the batter part. However, allowing the batter to ferment for 8-9 hours gives the Handva that much needed sour taste. A good handvo and dhokla has to have the pre-requisite khattash/sourness to it which is balanced by jaggery or sugar incase of Handvo it is always jaggery. I usually make a batch and reserve half the batter for other-time (usually consumed within week). A thin handvo will have better crust. A crust is what we love the most. Once the batter is ready you may choose to make it in a pan over stove top or bake it in cast iron skillet, muffin moulds, brownies mould or bundt cake pan any pan you fancy. Make sure to keep an eye on it while it is baking.
Go ahead and make this Watermelon Rind Handvo the way you like it!!
Watermelon Rind HandvoPrint Recipe
- 2+1/2 cups Handvo flour
- 1 cup yogurt
- 3 cups watermelon rind
- 1/3 cup leftover rice/khichri/grated carrot
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon haldi/tumeric powder
- 1 teaspoon dhana-jiru/coriander-cumin powder
- 1/4 cup jaggery, chopped
- 3 tablespoons peanuts
- 1 teaspoon methio/Gujarati achaar masala
- 2 teaspoons red chilli powder
- 1/3 cup oil, approximately ( have used groundnut oil)
- 1 teaspoon rai/mustard seeds
- 1 spring curry leaves
- 3-4 whole red chilies
- 2 inch piece of cinnamon
- 5-6 peppercorns
- 1/4 teaspoon asafetida
- 1/2 teaspoon Eno
To begin prepare the Handvo batter 8-10 hours before you plan to make Handvo.
In a large mixing bowl place the Handvo flour, 1 tablespoon oil.
Massage the oil well into the flour.
Add the yogurt, mix well, cover and let it rest/ferment for 8-9 hours.
Once the Handvo batter has rested for the the mentioned time we begin to prepare the batter.
First grate the watermelon rind (white part of the melon) discard the green peel. Transfer the grated rind over a sieve and let the excess juice drip off. Do not squeeze jut allow it to drip off for 5-7 minutes.
To the flour+yogurt batter add turmeric powder, salt, dhana-jeeru, jaggery, achaar masala.
Now add the leftover rice/khichri or carrot and the grated watermelon rind.
In the meanwhile pre heat the oven to 170 degrees centigrade. Grease two 8 inch baking pans (shape does not matter). Or you can bake just half the batter and keep the rest for next time.
Prepare the tempering that will go in the batter.
Place a small pan on medium flame, heat 1 tablespoon oil, add the peanuts and fry them till they begin crackling.
Add the peanuts along with its oil to the batter.
Place the same skillet on flame, heat 3 tablespoons oil add mustard seeds, sesame seeds, whole red chilies, cinnamon, red chili powder, hing and curry leaves taking care not to burn the chili powder and curry leaves. Add this tempering mix to the batter. Mix well.
If you are using the entire batter add 1/2 teaspoon Eno to the batter and mix well and quickly transfer the batter to the prepared pans.
In the same skillet heat 1-2 tablespoon oil and pour it over top and sprinkle some more sesame seeds.
Bake at 170 degrees for 40-45 minutes or a tooth pick inserted in the center of the handvo comes out clean.
At the end of the bake, broil for 7-10 minutes to give the top a perfect crust (do keep a watch).
Let the Handvo cool in the pan for 10-15 minutes before inverting to a serving plate.
Slice and serve with piping hot tea.
I drained the juice from the rind because the sweet juice would have imparted the melony sweetness to the Handvo, which I was not looking for. The batter of the Handvo will be like a cake batter not very tight nor very runny. Never shy from using good amount of oil because it lends the Handvo softness otherwise once the Handvo bakes it might get get dry. Any Handvo tastes better the next day. We also use oil from the mango pickle but I did not have it here so haven't included it in this recipe, if you have it use a couple of tablespoons of it instead of normal oil. If you are baking only half the batter remember to halve the Eno to 1/4 teaspoon.