Traditionally, Indians are not very adventurous when it comes to food. This is changing, though. So much so that I make my own Pizzas at home now. We love Pizza and prefer ours made at home. Today I’m sharing my Fresh Fig Paneer Pizza.
My parent’s generation ate out once in a while but didn’t understand choosing restaurant food over fresh and healthy home cooked fare. This is changing though. Pizza is as well known as Dosa or Paratha to most urban and semi-urban Indians. Indians are used to excellent use of a variety of spice and tend to find most foreign cuisines a bit bland. Yet change in food habits is inevitable, especially in today’s market driven world economies. Change can be a good thing. Two world cuisines that Indians have adopted and adapted till unrecognisable in the countries of their birth are Chinese and Italian food! Our Chinese dishes, pastas and pizzas have taken on very Indian flavours and are as Indian as rice and chappathis. I’m sure there is no other part of the world where you can eat a “tandoori” pizza!
Even after I learned to make decent bread, a good home-made pizza eluded me for a long time. But a lot of practice later, I can now manage a decent pizza and make them on and off though I haven’t really blogged them. IN fact, this Hawaiian Pizza is the only other pizza I have on this blog, and I need to change that soon. I haven’t mastered tossing my Pizza and mine are always pressed out by hand. I’d like to say they’re pretty good all the same. The family favourite is a Pizza with a tomato based Marinara Sauce topped with vegetables and cheese.
Figs were in season a few months back. I used those on a “no tomato sauce” Pizza with caramelised onions and paneer. You could use Feta cheese as the salt of that balances the sweetness of figs very well. Feta isn’t always available and I’ve found paneer works extremely well as a substitute. Store bought paneer is normally unsalted, except for the kind that we get in Goa which is salted. If you make your own paneer at home, then you can salt it to your taste and even add a dash of spice like cumin to it. We also prefer thin crust pizzas so that’s how I usually make mine. Do not over bake this pizza or the paneer will become tough and chewy.
Fresh Fig Paneer Pizza
For the pizza bases:
- 1 3/4 tsps active dry yeast
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 cup warm milk
- 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 2 tbsps olive oil
- 1 tsp salt
- water for dough
For the toppings:
- 4 medium sized onions sliced
- 2 tsps olive oil
- 8 fresh figs sliced or quartered
- 200 gm paneer cubes
- more olive oil to brush on the dough
- 2 to 3 sprigs fresh rosemary (or dried herbs)
- to taste salt
- to taste red chilli flakes
- 2 to 3 tbsp semolina to dust baking trays
- To make the pizza dough: Dissolve the sugar in the warm milk and then add the yeast. Stir well and keep aside for about 10 minutes to activate the yeast.
- You can knead the dough by hand but I prefer to do it in the processor. Put the flour, salt and olive oil in the food processor bowl and pulse a couple of times. Now add the activated yeast-milk mixture and run the processor. Add enough water to form a dough that is kneaded to a soft, smooth and elastic consistency.
- Remove the dough and shape it into a ball and place in an oiled bowl allowing the oil to coat the dough well. Cover with a kitchen towel and let the dough rise till almost double (about an hour and a half).
- Deflate the dough and knead lightly a couple of times. Divide the dough into 2 halves and shape each into a smooth ball. Roll out or press out each ball into a flat 11-inch round. Dust the pizza sheets with semolina and place the pizza dough on this and cover with toppings as mentioned below.
- The toppings: Heat the oil in a pan and stir-fry the onions in it till they caramelise to a golden brown. Remove from the pan and keep aside to cool.
- Brush the pizza dough with olive oil and arrange the caramelised onions, figs and the paneer cubes on top. Lightly sprinkle with salt and red chilli flakes, and then the rosemary too. Lightly drizzle a little more olive oil on the pizzas.
- Bake the pizzas at 240C (475F) for about 20 minutes or till the edges of the pizza are golden brown and the paneer starts browning at the edges. Serve warm.