A while back I posted a recipe for my favorite pizza dough and shared the story of how the recipe grew from many pizza failures, starting from flat crust, to a whole wheat crust. I tried all kinds of combinations, even a terrible attempt at an Indian fusion pizza with Indian cheese called paneer rather than the typical favorite of mozzarella.
One of my fellow blogging friends, Ansh of SpiceRoots, read the post and commented that she had a great recipe for an Indian pizza with paneer. Well, I just couldn’t resist asking her if she would do a guest post of the recipe.
I’ve been following her blog for a while now. Her site is full of stunning food photography that makes every dish look irresistible. She is also a great source of consistently superb recipes. Her recipes taste great every time. Her fun and bubbly personality shows through in her recipe writing. As you cook through her instructions you feel as through she’s standing right beside you in the kitchen.
So without further delay, here is Ansh and her wonderful recipe for an original “west-meets-east” creation.
Tandoori Paneer Pizza – A Guest Post from Ansh
A girl from Kashmir in India, is writing a guest post for an American girl from California about a recipe on pizza that has its origins in Naples. The topping has its roots in Punjab with a tortilla crust that originated from central America. Food, like love, knows no boundaries.
When Colleen suggested that I write a guest post for a tandoori paneer pizza for her blog, I had to think outside the box. This had to be special because I really admire Colleen for her complete acceptance of the culture she married into. The enthusiasm with which she shares her success about Indian cooking is contagious.
Here is the scoop on tandoori paneer pizza. Bring a chair and a cup of chai.
Tandoori Paneer Pizza – the No Boundary Pizza
When making a dish with paneer, especially store bought paneer in the United States, which is usually frozen or refrigerated, I always do two things:
1. Cut it in desired shapes and sizes and bring some milk and water mix to boil. Add the paneer and let it soak in this mix for about 30 minutes. This step makes the paneer softer and also brings about a fresher taste.
2. I usually cook it for a short time. Overcooking the paneer makes it dry and is not appetizing at all. After all who wants a bite of leathery white stuff?
(The only time I don’t do these two things is with the exception of the Kashmiri paneer dish called “chaman kaliya” which requires the use of dum…or I simply make my own paneer.)
Now that I have revealed my best-kept secrets, lets bake some pizza.
As always we will start with a plan – sauce, toppings and then crust – you know the drill!
Toppings for 4 medium pizzas
Here’s the plan
1 cup cubed paneer – cut ½ inch thick
¼ cup bell pepper – cut into strips or squares
½ onion diced – optional
1 – 2 green chilies – chopped (optional)
½ teaspoon ginger & garlic paste (available at most American grocers)
1 tsp tandoori masala (use your favorite brand or blend, available at Indian grocery stores and the ethnic aisle at Whole Foods)
¼ teaspoon garam masala (available at Indian grocers)
1 tablespoon cream or half n half (optional – if you have some use it)
1 tablespoon plain yogurt (use two if you did not use cream or half n half)
½ teaspoon oil
1 cup mozzarella cheese – you can use as much or as little as you prefer
- Heat the oil over medium heat and add the ginger/garlic paste. Cook for a min until fragrant. Allow it to cool then add spices, yogurt and cream (if using) and mix.
- Add the onions, peppers and paneer and let it marinate while you get the sauce ready.
See anything missing? Salt? Yup! It is missing. Two reasons –
- If you are using store bought tandoori powder- it already has some salt.
- We will have salt in the dough & the sauce – so there is really no need to overdose on salt! You can add in a pinch if you can’t help it.
Why are we cooking the ginger and garlic paste for the marinade? Since we won’t cook the toppings for long, we need to precook the ginger & garlic paste.
Now that the toppings are all organized lets bring the sauciness on!
For the Sauce
4 tablespoons thick tomato paste or 1 cup deseeded peeled chopped tomatoes
½ teaspoon cumin powder
½ teaspoon chili powder
½ cup water (only if using the paste)
2 teaspoons finely grated garlic
Some yummy olive oil for frying (about 2 tablespoons)
½ teaspoon salt – add more or less to your own taste
Put a pan on medium heat and add the olive oil. As soon as the pan is warm, add the cumin. You know the oil is hot enough because the cumin seeds will bubble up a bit. Add the garlic. Stir and cook until fragrant. Add the tomato paste and water (or the chopped tomatoes). Mix and add the chili powder and a pinch or two of salt. Cook until everything blends together and starts to look like a pizza sauce.
Now lets see what we can do about that crust.
Option 1 – Use any recipe for pizza crust that you already love
Option 2 – Use a whole wheat Tortilla as the base.
This is where cooking paneer for pizza gets tricky – a long 10 – 15 minutes in the oven will dry it out. So what do we do? We assemble the pizza like this:
Option 1 (using your own recipe of pizza dough)
- Roll out the dough
- Apply sauce
- Add the toppings except the paneer
- Add the mozzarella cheese
- Bake for 7 – 10 minutes at 400-degrees F (if following a recipe, bake at the recommended temperature for 2/3rds the baking time)
- When it is cooked halfway – you add the paneer toppings.
- Finish cooking for another 5 minutes…until the cheese is bubbly and the crust gets as crunchy as you like it.
Option 2 (With whole wheat tortilla)
- Heat up a non stick pan and put a tortilla on it
- Cook on both sides until brown spots appear and the edges crisp
- Place tortillas on the back of a baking sheet (or use the same pan)
- Put the sauce on and the toppings and broil on low for 3 minutes and on high for 2 minutes
- Keep an eye on it. The edges can burn pretty fast.
What’s my recipe for the pizza dough? Fleischmann’s® Pizza Crust Yeast and just follow the instructions! It’s really easy and quick.
How’s that for no boundaries?
Until the next culinary expedition!