A few days ago, prompted by a flyer that came with the morning newspaper, HRH the Queen of Kutch, looking slightly wistful, said, `I would really like to have a good pizza. Let us make one this evening.’ On hearing this, I promptly put a couple of bottles of beer, and, just in case it was needed, a bottle of white wine, into the fridge. Better safe than sorry. Then I continued to read the newspapers and drink my coffee.
The legendary chef Michel Roux [Senior] has authored a set of for books- Eggs, Desserts, Eggs and Pastry – which like all his other books are excellent. We use these books extensively, the recipes work, and they are accurate and are obviously well tested. Most importantly, Michel Roux is a real chef; therefore I would trust a book written by a real chef much more than one written by someone who is not a real chef. I pulled out the Pastry book, which has a very good recipe for pizza dough, and obviously pizzas. HRH the Queen of Kutch being the qualified baker set about making the dough.
The recipe required that the dough rests in a `warm place’ at 22C – 24C for 8 to 12 hours for its first rising. Then it is to be processed further. In Mumbai a temperature of 22C – 24C means an air-conditioned room. Instead of air-conditioning a room just for the dough, we decided to pop in into the fridge for some time in a hope to keep the temperature down. By evening the dough was processed and ready to be made into a pizza. While the dough rose, we discussed what we would want to top our pizza with. Olives was reasonably straightforward. There was a toss up between anchovy and ham, we went with ham. Basil and Rocket would also be used. No roast capsicum, no onion no Tandoori Chicken, no Pepperoni. Just a simple pizza with Ham. We popped down to Natures Basket and bought some thinly sliced Prosciutto.
Then it was dinnertime. A bottle of white wine was opened and we had a glass each while doing the final prep. The oven was preheated, pizza was rolled out topped with some fresh tomato sauce, some halved Cherry Tomato simply marinated in salt, pepper, sugar and olive oil, and Mozzarella, and popped into the hot oven. Once the base cooked and the cheese melted we pulled out the pizza. The thinly sliced Prosciutto and Rocket and Basil was placed on top, olive oil drizzled, pepper sprinkled and we settled down to eat. My God, the pizza was good. It was really good. We had baked two, and could eat only one. They were large.
|The Pizza baked with just the tomato sauce, olives, marinated Cherry Tomato and Cheese|
|The Pizza finished with the Ham and Rocket.|
I thought to myself, that the cost of a pizza made at home is really next to nothing. Easily within Rs 100/- and you can feed your family easily. What is it, a kilo each of Flour and Tomato? The most expensive ingredients are the toppings. Mozzarella [a kilo of Amul costs Rs 270 and you do not use a kilo], Olives [a jar also costs Rs 270 and you do not use a whole jar] add to the base cost. If you like, you could order a plate of Tandoori Chicken from the local restaurant, shred the damn thing and add it to the pizza. However you look at it, all in all a homemade pizza is cheap. The results of a homemade pizza are far superior to something you buy, and what is more, you can customise it as you like.
It was a good meal.
If you would like the recipe for the pizza base do ask, I will be happy to give it to you.