“Chefs are nutters! They’re all self-obsessed, delicate, dainty, insecure souls and absolute psychopaths.” – Gordon Ramsay
Gone are the days when Pizza was only for take-outs, it’s not anymore. Flatbread Naan pizzas are in town now and they are quicker, effortless and scrumptious. Okay, so you won’t be a nutter chef Gordon Ramsay is talking about but you’ll definitely be a chef-at-home with this recipe. It’s amazing how busy our lives have become that we are always looking for shortcuts, in particularly food. I tell you, that’s one reason why the fast-food industry has boomed, because we are just not bothered about food anymore. We are so busy making someone’s else’s dreams become a reality we tend to forget ourselves and moreover, even if we are working hard towards achieving our dreams in life, we still tend to forget ourselves in the process. It’s honestly a sad world out there and it makes me sad to see how life has engrossed us just to live up to “standards”. As true as that is, it is also true, there are ways to make life easier and I am talking in particular about food, no! not take-outs, home cooked fast and simple meals for those of us pressed with time and these Flatbread Naan Pizzas can’t get any easier. Alfredo sauce paired with Tikka flavour and smothered in cheese is truly an Alfredo lover’s dream come true. This is a pizza that cooks itself for those who are looking for a hearty yet quick and easy to make dinner. With Naan as the base of the pizza, pizza has never come easier for people who love home-baked pizzas.
Let’s talk a little about the history before I dive into this East meets West Pizza marriage. Raffaele Esposito is known to be the father of pizza. History has it that in 1800’s he made a Tomato, basil and Mozerella pie in honour of the visit of King Umberto and his consort Queen Margherita, of Italy, to Naples. We still have that honour of a pizza today known as the Margherita Pizza. The first ever Pizza shop is also known to have been opened in Naples, Italy and Pizza Napoletana was born. It is amazing how far the world of Pizza has come. It is an ocean of pizza’ s out there with numerous variations and every region adapting the fundamentals of the recipe to innovate new styles and methods of preparing it. It’s been a long journey the Pizza has undertaken from Italy, now known to the world in their own food frame. This pizza recipe is exactly that, a fusion of East and West and coming from an east Asian background, which is regarded as a melting pot of food cultures, it’s our Naan to the rescue for a hassle free time- friendly Pizza’ s at home. The Naan when baked right is a fluffy flat bread with a crisp exterior and a cloud like inside pocket. That is when you know the Naan bread is simply perfect.
Alfredo sauce as famously known is extremely popular in the western cuisine and in the Asian version it’s simply regarded as a white sauce without the addition of nutmeg. If you look at it though, a white cheese sauce, Alfredo sauce and the Bechamel sauce, all three are siblings, with slight variations. A plain white sauce is simple sauce cooked in a butter, milk and flour base with saute onions whereas Alfredo sauce is cooked the same way with the addition of nutmeg as well as cream and the Bechamel sauce is cooked without saute onions in a simple flour, butter and milk base with the addition of bay leaf and powdered mace. Ofcourse, when it comes to herbs, the sauces are always welcoming of any and flavours just seem to happily marry into these three basic white sauces. The cheese addition to these sauces are on top of the fundamental recipe e.g. white sauce is usually paired with cheddar or Mozarella whereas Alfredo sauce has Parmesan Cheese as it’s essence cheese and Bechamel sauce is also paired with cheese of choices and liking. Here is one suggestion for this particular Naan Pizza though, in terms of cheese; don’t go crazy with it, because the Alfredo sauce is already creamy and too much cheese will just kill the whole flavour. So, just top enough to keep it cheesy and not all-cheese. Also, I tweeked the Alfredo sauce a bit with Asian flavours. It was wonderful.
I decided I wanted to merge the Alfredo sauce with Tikka spice and turn it into a pizza sauce base. I tell you this, this is a succulent and absolutely delicious synchronization of East Meeting West flavours. In all honesty, anything that has a white sauce in it or on it, just works fine for me. The idea is to be creative with it and let it’s magic work itself. The tikka spice is obviously a typical Asian spice which has a bit of heat to it and the creamy white sauce balances it out phenomenally and to top it all off and finish scrumptiously strong, the coriander offers absolute fresh flavour in pairing. There’s one thing I did differently to the tikka masala, I blended the tomatoes with Roasted Peppers. Roasted Peppers are Red Bell Peppers that are roasted and preserved in salt, vinegar and oil. They carry a smoked flavour with a little sweetness but once added to any dish amplifies the depth of flavours and umami of the dish elevating it from simply delicious to utterly magic. The Roasted Peppers are easily available in any super-store but if you can’t find any, roast one red pepper in the oven for 45 minutes or if you have a gas hob, atop the fire, until charred and smoky. Peel the skin off and rub it with a little olive oil and salt. Use what’s needed and keep the rest in an air-tight container with a little olive oil in the fridge for upto 5 days. Use it in stews, salads, curries or pizza sauces.
The colours are gorgeous once it’s out of the oven. The best part is, without the hassle of making a homemade pizza dough or trying out the absolute vile store bought pizza dough, the Naan bread works wonders. It’s already cooked and ready to be topped, baked and ready in under 20 minutes.
Hold on though, it’s not like it’s a complete white pizza flat bread without any tomato sauce as in the usual Pizza. The chicken cubes are cooked in a tomato based gravy with tikka flavours and the amalgamation of the cooked tomato gravy with the Alfredo sauce speaks volume in beguiling flavours. When you bite into it, your palate is immediately introduced to a party of flavours going on and starts to recognize each flavour individually gradually as you start to chew. I tell you this, your palate will definitely fall in love.
Next time when I am just not feeling the vibe to stand in the kitchen and cook, this is my go-to recipe. I’ll mix up a green leafy salad on the side and I am good to go for dinner. So, if you have Naan breads in the house, warm those up and get cooking.
I personally believe, anyone who loves pizza, loves it in all its forms and coming from an Asian background, I will love it in an Asian food culture frame just as much and as Elizabeth Gilbert says, “I love my pizza so much, infact, that I have come to believe in my delirium that my pizza might actually love me in return. I am having a relationship with pizza, almost an affair” (Eat, Pray, Love).
Serves 4 – 6
1. Chicken boneless — 1kg
2. Mozzarella cheese — 2 cups
3. Coriander leaves chopped — 1 cup
4. Naan Bread — 4
1. Onion — 2
2. Butter — 4 tbsp
3. Flour — 4 tbsp
4. Parmesan cheese — ¾ cup
5. Salt — ½ tsp
6. Soya sauce — 2 tsp
7. Garam Masala — 1 tsp
8. Chopped green chillies — 2
9. Nutmeg — ½ tsp
10. Black pepper — 1 tsp
11. Milk — ¾ cup
1. Roasted Red Bell Pepper — 4 slices
2. Tikka masala — 6 tsp
3. Lemon juice — 2 tsp
6. Salt — Pinch accordingly
7. Chopped Tomato tin — ½ cup
8. Oil — 4 tbsp
1. Prepare the chicken filling
a. In a blender blend together, roasted red bell pepper, tomato chopped, chopped coriander leaves, salt, tikka masala, salt and lemon juice.
b. In a deep skillet or pan, heat oil and add the blended puree.
c. Add the chicken cubes and a little sprinkle of water.
d. Cook the chicken until cooked through and the sauce has thickened.
2. Prepare the Alfredo sauce
a. In a sauce pan, melt the butter and add the chopped onion.
b. Sauté the onions until soft and translucent.
c. Add the flour and mix for a minute.
d. Pour milk in the sauce pan and whisk quickly to prevent from making lumps.
e. Add, salt, black pepper, chopped green chillies, soya sauce, garam masala powder and nutmeg.
f. Let it come to a boil and thicken up. The sauce should be thicker than usual and not runny. Add a little more flour if the sauce seems too runny.
g. Add parmesan cheese and mix.
h. Turn off the heat and let it cool.
3. Assemble the Naan pizza
a. Pre-heat the oven to 180C.
b. Butter the bottom of the Naan bread and toast on a fry pan until golden and crisp (this will prevent the Naan bread going soggy once the topping is on top).
c. Once toasted and crisp, move to a baking sheet.
d. Spread the Alfredo sauce over the Naan.
e. Top it with the prepare tikka masala filling.
f. Top with mozzarella cheese and chopped coriander leaves.
g. Put it in the oven for 6-8 minutes to melt the cheese on top (microwave is not recommended as it will make the Naan go soggy).