Saturday, June 15, 2019

How to make Homemade Pizza from scratch

When I think back at my first experience eating pizza, I'm immediately taken back home to when I was about 10 or 12 years old. My best friends mother had whipped up some little pizzas for us as a snack using store bought pizza bases, a little sauce and some toppings. I can't remember what was on it, but what I do remember was that I liked it very, very much. After that,  she very kindly shared that recipe with my mother, who whipped them up for us at home, every once in a while.

Fast forward to about 7-8 years ago, I actually learned to make my pizza bases from scratch. After a whole lot of trial and error, I finally found a combination that worked well for me. And I've stuck to that ever since. And its safe to say, that since then, I have never bought a store bought pizza base. It is quite easy to make, once you know what your doing. Coupled with this, I'm also going to share my no-cook pizza sauce recipe with you. This recipe is probably older than my pizza dough recipe. As far as the toppings go, we've tried a lot of combinations. Once you have the basics in place, you can switch up you toppings to suit your tastes.

I'm going to whip up 2 pizzas today, one is a pepperoni pizza and the other is a mixed vegetable pizza. While, we're tried a few topping options, these two have got to be strong favorites in my house.

So let's get on to the recipe, shall we?



Homemade Pizza 

For the pizza dough

2 cups all purpose flour (maida)
1 tsp instant dried yeast
1 tsp sugar
150ml luke warm water (approx.) (use as needed)
2 spoons olive oil
Salt, to taste

In a little bowl, combine the yeast, sugar and a couple of tablespoons of warm water. Set the bowl aside for about 5-10 minutes for the yeast to activate.

After 5-10 minutes, the yeast will turn frothy and is now activated.

In a large mixing bowl, take 2 cups flour and add the salt (I use about 3/4 tsp salt). Using your fingers, mix the salt through the flour.

Make a well in the middle of the mound of flour and add the yeast mix.

Start combining the flour with the yeast and gradually add warm water, as needed to form a soft dough.

The dough will be tacky at first, but will eventually be much more manageable and smooth.

Stretch the dough while kneading and continue this process for about 5 minutes. (See video above, for method). Halfway through the process, add the oil in 2 stages and continue working the dough.

Shape into a ball, and place in a greased bowl. Drizzle a little olive oil on the dough and lightly coat the top of the dough, so that it doesn't dry out. Cover the bowl with some cling film or a clean, damp towel and leave the bowl in a warm place for the dough to rise. Leave to prove (rise) for about an hour, or till the dough doubles in volume. (It might take a little longer during cooler months.)


For the sauce
1-1 1/4 cup passata, tomato puree or canned tomatoes (If using canned tomatoes, process them to a puree before using)
2-3 small cloves of garlic, minced
2 tsp olive oil
Salt, to taste
Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
A little less than 1/2 tsp dried mixed herbs
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp sugar
1/4-1/2 tsp red chilly flakes

Add all the ingredients into a bowl. Stir to mix thoroughly.

The sauce is now ready to use.


To make the pizzas

Preheat the oven to 250 deg C.

Divide the dough into 2 portions.

Stretch the dough to form the base. (See the video above for method)

Spread the sauce over the base, leaving a little margin from the edges.

Add toppings of your choice and cheese. (I use a combination of mozzarella and colby / cheddar).

Bake for 10-12 minutes or till the dough (pizza base) is cooked through and the cheese has melted.

Enjoy!



NOTES:
1) Remember to use warm water, not hot water. Hot water will kill your yeast and your dough will not rise.

Friday, June 7, 2019

Tambdi Bhaji or Red Amaranth vegetable Stir-fry

This post is a shout out to another one of my favorite vegetables - Red amaranth leaves. Have you tried it before? If you haven't, do try and get your hands on some. It is such a fun vegetable with its beautiful, naturally red color. It is super easy to put together and uses just a few, easy to find ingredients and you have yourself a mildly spiced, flavorful stir fried vegetable. My take on it, uses some grated coconut. Don't leave the coconut out. It absolutely makes this dish. The name 'tambdi bhaji' literally translates to Red Vegetable (in Konkani, Tambdi=red and bhaji=vegetable)

The sad part is, as much as I love this vegetable, I haven't been able to find these gorgeous leaves in Sydney. When I was back home in Mumbai a month ago, I knew we were going to make a few trips to the local fresh food market. Now, I haven't spoken about this before, but back when I lived in Mumbai, my first stop to the market was at a little stall run by a local lady (from the Gorai - Manori stretch). There are a couple of such stalls and these ladies bring a gorgeous bounty of produce that they grow on their properties. And this is as close to fresh, chemical free and organic food as you can get (make sure you chat with your vendor to confirm their growing practices). So on one of these trips to the market, my favorite vendor had some gorgeous bunches of red amaranth leaves. Needless to say, I grabbed a couple of massive bunches and ran home to whip it up for lunch. 

So without any further rambling, let's move on to the recipe.



Tambdi Bhaji

2 large bunches of red amaranth leaves
2 tbsp oil
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
3 green chillies, slit 
1 onion, chopped
2 heaped tbsp grated coconut
Salt, to taste

To prep the vegetable, break off the roots and the woody part of the stems and discard. Wash the leaves under cold, running water and drain. Wash it out a couple of times or till clean. Roughly chop the vegetable and keep aside. 

Heat the oil in a large pot on medium heat. Carefully tip in the mustard seeds. 

When the seeds splutter, add the chillies and let them fry till fragrant.

Add the onions and saute till they soften and turn slightly pinkish.

Add the chopped vegetable and stir well to coat it in the oil and onion mix. Let the vegetable stir fry for a couple of minutes. You will notice it wilting already.

Add some salt, to taste and stir well to mix. 

Add a couple of tablespoons of water and mix through.

Cover the pot and cook on medium heat for about 3-5 minutes or till the vegetable is tender and most of the water has evaporated. 

Add the grated coconut and stir through.

Check for seasoning and add more salt, if needed. 

Cover the pot and let it cook for about another minute to let the coconut heat through. 

Serve hot. Enjoy!
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