Doesn’t the very mention of Pizza light up your eyes? As far as I am concerned, I am bonkers about Pizzas. There was a time when lunch for me meant a sleepy-toned phone call to Dominos and waking up when the delivery boy rang the doorbell 30 mins later. That was when I lived alone, worked till the wee hours in the morning and used to be too sleepy and too exhausted to cook lunch for myself. But when too much Pizza started showing on my midriff, I had to cut down on my temptation. It was after I got married and found an equally-enthusiastic-about-Pizza husband that I decided to start making it at home in a healthier avatar. Now let me admit. Making Pizza from scratch is no mean task. So, naturally, our Pizza consumption stays limited. But when we do indulge in it, we don’t end up feeling guilty because my Pizza base is rich in fibre and the cheesy mountain on top is made of skimmed milk. I also make a special tomato paste to be spread on the base, which enhances the taste of the pizza. Overall, I have been told, my Pizzas, with the vast variety of toppings, beat Dominos and Pizza Hut in taste. Want to make them for yourself too? Okay, I’ll start with the basic Farmhouse Pizza and then go on to more exotic toppings. Here’s the recipe:
FOR THE BASE
2 cups wholewheat flour
4 tablespoons wheat bran (chokar)
2 teaspoons dried yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
11/2 cups warm water
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons olive oil
FOR TOMATO PASTE
2 large, ripe tomatoes
2 tablespoons ready made tomato puree
1 tablespoon tomato ketchup
2-3 cloves garlic (peeled and crushed)
1 teaspoon basil leaves (very finely chopped)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon red chilly flakes
Salt (to taste)
1/2 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon olive oil
FOR THE TOPPING
1 tomato (de-seeded and cut into cubes)
1 onion (peeled and cut into cubes, layers separated)
1 capsicum (de-seeded and cut into cubes)
5-6 button mushrooms (cleaned and sliced)
4 baby corns (cut into strips) (optional)
2 tablespoons skimmed buffalo mozzarella cheese (grated)
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
Combine the dried yeast with sugar and water and let it rest till it is foamy. Mix wholewheat flour, wheat bran and salt in a bowl. Add a teaspoon of olive oil and mix. Make a well in the centre of the flour and add the yeast mixture. Mix with your fingers and then knead into a soft dough. Brush the dough with one teaspoon olive oil, cover with a damp cloth and let it rest for 30 mins or till it doubles in volume. Knead once again and divide the dough into balls. Roll out into 1/2 inch thick circles of the size you want your base. Prick the circles 6-7 times with a fork and bake in a pre-heated oven at 150 degrees for 5-7 mins. Remove and keep aside.
Wash the tomatoes well and make a cross slit at its top with a knife. Put in boiling water and steam for 3-4 mins. Remove the skin and let the tomatoes cool. Once cool, blend the tomatoes to make a thick paste. Heat one teaspoon olive oil in a pan and fry the crushed garlic till it starts turning brown. Add the tomato paste and stir. When it begins to leave the sides of the pan, add the tomato puree and tomato ketchup. Fry till oil separates. Add the chopped basil leaves, pepper, red chilly flakes, sugar and salt. Mix well. Add two tablespoons of water and bring to a boil. Cook till a thick paste-like consistency is obtained, You can refrigerate this paste in an air-tight jar for about a month.
Spread a tablespoon of this paste evenly on the prepared pizza base. Top it with tomato, onion, capsicum, mushrooms and baby corn strips. This is how it will look:
Sprinkle the grated mozzarella cheese and place in a greased microwave safe tray. Preheat the oven at 220 degrees for 10 mins. Place the tray in the oven and bake the pizza at 220 degrees for 10 mins or till the base is crisp and the cheese molten and bubbly. Meanwhile, mix together dried oregano, salt and pepper. Remove the pizza from the oven and sprinkle this mixture over it. Cut into pieces and serve hot.
PIZZA WITHOUT OVEN
If you are not comfortable with the oven, don’t get disheartened. You can still make these pizzas. All you need is one griddle (tawa), one 2-inch-deep frying pan with a lid (the one you use to make your omelettes or pancakes) and a gas stove. When making the pizza base, instead of putting the bases in the oven, put them on the frying pan brushed with a little olive oil. Heat the griddle on medium flame and then put the frying pan with the pizza base on top of it. Cover the frying pan with a lid and cook on low heat for 10-12 mins. You will see your base is nicely cooked and fluffy.
Again, after topping the pizza with the tomato paste, vegetables and cheese, repeat the same process and cook covered on low heat for another 10 mins. You will have to remove the lid and keep checking once in a while to ensure that your base or cheese do not get burned. Also, ensure that you do not put the frying pan directly on the stove, as this will result in a hard, brown pizza base. The key lies in maintaining the right kind of heat.
Eat, drink and be merry! 🙂