A week gone by with no foodie talk, so to engage you once more with our rants, we are back this time with everyone’s favourite food – Pizza ! and not so short story !
After the successful noodle invasion of late 60’s, India saw yet another invasion in early 90’s and this time it was the Italian pizza across the mediterranean. Before that , mini size pizzas from the small bakers across the street remained as an evening snack. Small size pizza bases engaged the enthusiast home cooks to bake their own version, but it was not seriously sought after before Don Giovanni’s arrived in Indian metro cities. Remember the name ? A small leaflet sticker attached to the electric poles directing the pizza lovers to its shop in some unheard corner of the street.
90’s was the time of economic liberation, internet age was at its infancy and people were more interested to try something new, something different, something unusual. Dominos arrived quietly, but it failed to strike the right pulse with the Indians. It remained elusive, a fashion for upper class Indians and people were not yet ready to sacrifice their tandoori rotis. Middle class Indians failed to understand why he should pay 400 rs for a pizza, or who can eat that pizza for dinner. This last fact was very hard to accept – pizza for dinner ?
By the mid 90’s IT boom happened, so does the pizza boom, Pizza Hut arrived in India with much pomp and show, and to strike the right chord with the Indians, Pizza Hut twisted the flavour in favour of Indians and to appease a large section of country’s vegetarians, they innovate it with tandoori paneer, paneer tikka pizza, veggie extravaganza etc. Soon Indian realized that it just like their own roti -subzi with paneer tikka, with a different kind of bread though. Mozzarella become the new lingo associated with pizza, soon pizza becomes a fashion, to fad and to the very existence of über cool Indians.
Friday nights become pizza nights, office team outings become pizza outings, weekend family dinner become pizza dinner nights, kids makes it essential for their birthday parties and people can not boast enough about its goodness. For an ardent pizza lover, it is the most balanced diet ever existed. It has carb, it has good fat, it has very less oil, it is baked, veggie completes the lack of vitamins and minerals in a pizza, meat gives the required protein and so on. When you are hungry – order a pizza, when you are depressed – order a pizza, when you are not in a mood to cook – order a pizza, no gas at home – order a pizza, it is raining – order a pizza, a surprise guest at the door – quietly order a pizza, pizza for every ocassion and some even ensured that it reached to you with in 20 minutes, else it will become free. Well “the free part” can not be emphasized, unless you actually tried it ! 😉
Just when you thought that pizza is very much part of Indian cuisine, New Yorkers gave it a slightly different twist with their thin crust pizza, that can be had at any time of the day ! Even with your morning cuppa ! Believe me and thanked me I say so ! The thin crusty , cracker y base with just few toppings becomes a rage in no time. But to keep yourself interested in pizza, you can not try the same pizza twice, it has to be different, be it the sauce, the toppings or the dough. The home style pizzerias in US ensured that, so that explains the rise of artisan pizza, gourmet pizza and so on. The sauce will always remain their trade secret, you will never be able to find out the secret recipe of their flavoured dough and the customers will remain amused forever.
In my recent venture to California Pizza Kitchen, I have come across their chicken barbecue pizza and it hooked me instantly. Tiny bits of baked chicken slathered in smoky barbecue sauce with hint of cilantro was really amusing and that inspire me to bake this “Hawaiian style pizza with ham and pineapple in barbecue sauce” and in one word it was simply “Awesome” !
Well, since when I started baking my own pizza at home is another less interesting story, I guess. In last couple of years I have baked more than a dozen of pizza, at home, and I found it the most easy and manageable yeasty bread recipe ever. I can assured you, no two pizzas were same, every time it was different, with varied toppings from chicken, tofu, broccoli, mushrooms, ham, anchovies etc and sauce should cut across the monotony of marinara. Pesto, barbeques and shriracha are welcoming change. Cheese is at heart of any pizza but you can always control it , pizza need not be very cheesy !
- 1¼ cup : Bread flour + more for dusting
- 1 tsp : Active dry yeast
- ½ tsp : Sugar to feed the yeast
- 1 tbsp : Olive oil + more for greasing
- ½ tsp : Salt
- ½ cup : Warm water + more as required
- ½ cup : Pineapple (chopped)
- 1 or 2 Jalapenos (thinly sliced)
- ½ cup : Proscuitto ham bits
- 3-4 tbsp : Barbecue sauce
- In a large bowl, sift the flour and salt. Make a well in the center and add the olive oil.
- In a separate small bowl, soak the yeast in 3-4 tbsp warm water, leave for couple of minutes.
- Stir to dissolve the yeast and add the sugar and leave it for 10 minute to let the yeast foamed and rise.
- Once the yeast foams, it is consider good enough to use in the dough.
- Add the yeast in the flour and mix it well.
- Add some more warm water to the dough and knead it for 5 minute till it come together.
- Leave for coiple of minutes.
- Knead the dough for 10 minutes, till it becomes smooth. Kneading will help the gluten to develop.
- Grease the bowl with olive oil and put the dough in it. Cover with a kitchen towel and keep the bowl in a warm and darught free area.
- Let the dough rasie to double in volume and this may take 1 to 2 hour depending upon the room temperature.
- Once the dough sufficiently rasied, punch it down and again knead for 2 or 3 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 400 F.
- Place the pizza stone in the oven, if you do not have pizza stone, you can use cookie sheet too.
- On a slightly flour dusted surface, roll out the dough. Give it a shape you like.
- Lightly grease it with olive oil and basted it with barbecue sauce.
- Arrange the toppings of pineapple, ham and jalapenos, and cover it with shredded mozarella cheese.
- Place the prepared pizza on the preheated pizza stone or cookie sheet and bake for 15 minutes till the base becomes slightly crusty.
- Cut the pizza with the help of pizza cutter and serve immediately.
This post is part of Home Bakers Challenge – a facebook group for bloggers and non-bloggers initiated by Priya and this month’s it was hosted by Divya. She challenged us to bake a pizza with three types of sauce, I follow the pizza dough recipe from Martha Stewart and play around with the toppings and sauce.
It is a fun filled group for the home based bakers and if you wish, you too can join the group .
Have a haapy week ahead !