Indian Pizza

This past week I was in the mood to make something new. A lot of the time I find myself in a rut making the same things over and over. Often this is unavoidable because at work I have no control over what people order. At home though I like to be creative when I find the time and mix it up. On Sunday I had a couple of hours I could spend in my own kitchen, so I decided to experiment with Italian-Indian fusion. 

You’re probably asking yourself, “what the hell is that?” That’s ok, I never considered it either until I saw a blurb about it in the San Francisco Chronicle about a month ago. The article highlights pizza joints around the city that offer Indian pizzas. Unfortunately, I never heard about any of these places while I lived in SF, or I definitely would have hit them up regularly. One thing I truly miss about living in a larger metropolitan city, is being able to have good Indian food delivered. If that Indian food is delivered in pizza form though, and slathered with melted cheese, that is taking it to the next level! I know there is nothing like it in Reno, so I put on my list of ” things I must make.”

So how does one go about making Indian pizza? Good question. I don’t think there is a definitive answer. I looked at all the menus of the pizza places mentioned in the article and there really are no set rules, so I just sort of winged it. I found a popular recipe online for naan bread, and that was my pizza crust. Next, I made a tikka masala as the sauce. For toppings I went vegetarian and used curried cauliflower, fresh ginger, caramelized spring onions, eggplant, and a blend of italian cheeses. When the pizza came out of the oven I topped it with cilantro and cashews. Even though I really had no basis of comparison, the pizza exceeded my expectations. All the spicy Indian flavors melded together perfectly with the cheese. The naan dough wasn’t quite the same as an authentic Indian restaurant, but it worked just fine as pizza crust. This is definitely a flavor combination that works. Now all I need to do is convince my local Indian restaurant that they could make a killing if they delivered pizzas.

Indian Pizza
*Makes 2 – 13″ pizzas (serves 8)
*To make a quicker version of this pizza, buy pre-made pizza dough and jarred indian sauce

For Naan: (adapted from All Recipes)
1 (.25 oz) Active Dry Yeast Package
1 cup Water – warm
2 TBSP Sugar
3 TBSP Milk
1 Egg – beaten
2 tsp salt
3 cups Bread Flour

For Tikka Masala: (adapted from Food & Wine)
1 cup Yogurt – plain
1/4 cup Almond Slivers – toasted
2 Garlic Cloves – minced
1 Onion – chopped
1 TBSP Ginger – fresh, minced
2 TBSP Vegetable Oil
1 TBSP Garam Masala
1 tsp Chile Powder
1 tsp Cumin
1/2 tsp Cardamom
1/2 tsp Cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp Tumeric
1 – 14 oz can Tomatoes – diced
Salt & Pepper to taste

Toppings for Pizza:
2 cups Cauliflower florets
1/2 Eggplant – sliced paper-thin (use a mandolin if you have one)
3 Spring Onions – thinly sliced
1 TBSP Ginger (fresh)- cut into thin strips
2 cups Italian Cheese Blend – shredded
1/4 cup Cilantro – chopped
1/4 cup Cashews – chopped
1 TBSP Curry Powder
1 TBSP Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper to taste

  1. Start by making the Naan Bread. In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in warm water (about 110F). After about 10 minutes, the mixture should be foamy. Stir in the milk,  sugar, salt, egg, and flour. Bring the dough together with your hands, and then knead on a floured board for 6-8 minutes. The dough should be soft, but have some elasticity. Add more flour if the dough is too sticky. Form dough into a ball, and place into a well oiled bowl. Cover with a damp cloth and set in a warm, draft-free environment to rise. When the dough has doubled in size (about an hour), punch the dough down and divide into two balls. Place the balls on an oiled sheet tray and cover with the damp cloth. Allow the dough to rise again for another 30 minutes. Pre-heat the oven to 400F. Using a rolling-pin, roll each ball out into a 13″ round circle. You can also use your hands to help stretch the dough. Pre-bake the pizza crust for about 7 minutes or until the dough starts to “puff.” Use a pizza stone if you have one.  
  2. To make the tikka masala sauce, start by sauteing the onion, garlic, and ginger in the oil. Cook until the onions are soft. Add all the spices to the onion mixture and cook another minute. Add the tomatoes, and cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the yogurt and almonds, and cook another 10 minutes. Let the sauce cool, and then puree it in a blender. The sauce should be thick, and have a slightly crunchy texture from the almonds. Once the pizzas are built, there will be sauce left over that can be used for dipping.                                                                                  
  3. Preheat oven to 375F. For the toppings, toss the cauliflower, onions, and ginger with the olive oil, curry powder, and some salt & pepper. Roast in a 400F oven until the cauliflower starts to brown, about 10 minutes. Once the mixture is cool, start to build the pizza. Spread the sauce evenly across the par-baked pizza crusts. Top each pizza with the cauliflower mixture, sliced eggplant, and the cheese. Bake for 10-15 minutes. You can turn up the oven the last 5 minutes to 400F, to help brown the cheese. Once the pizza is out of the oven, garnish with cilantro and cashews. Serve with extra tikka masala sauce for dipping.                            

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