Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Tandoori Flavored Chicken Pizza                               

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

Pizza was first introduced to me during my high school years in Kenya by my best Friend, Noni, who was/is an avid pizza eater. Our favorite pizza joint then became an Italian restaurant in Nairobi named Trattoria. We spent many hours and Shillings (Kenyan currency) at this joint and would frequent it at least once a week. I was always curious about how the pie was made. My curiosity led to my discovering how simple it is to make the crust (the bready part of the pie) and how, besides the required standard pizza sauce and cheese, the toppings were only limited by your imagination. The recipe I'm about to share is an example of just how versatile pizza toppings can be. I'm using a classic crust, with tandoori-flavored chicken, grape tomatoes, arugula, basil and pineapple as toppings. 

For those who do not know what a pizza is, it is an oven-baked, flat, round bread typically topped with a tomato sauce, cheese and various toppings. This open-faced pie has Italian origins. So what is Tandoori chicken? It is a popular Indian dish consisting of roasted chicken prepared with yoghurt and spices and roasted in a special clay oven. The chicken I used here is not baked in a tandoor (special clay oven). However, I've used the same spice blends in this dish to give the chicken that fiery red coloring and flavors it is known for. I didn't want to first roast the chicken and then put it on the pizza to bake further as that would have resulted in dry chicken-blech! So, I opted to first sear the chicken in a hot cast-iron skillet sans oil to lock in the juices, then proceeded to bake it on the pizza. The pairing of the heat from the spicy chicken, the sweetness of the pineapples and the peppery flavor of the Arugula is ridiculously good! The crust is neither too bready nor too thin, but just right. See what I've done here? I've taken your taste-buds on a culinary Safari of India and Italy without ever leaving your kitchen :). Let's get started, shall we?

YIELD: One medium size pizza (feeds 4 sufficiently).


EQUIPMENT:

-Cast iron skillet (or heavy-bottomed pan).

-Pizza stone or pizza pan for baking.


INGREDIENTS FOR THE PIZZA CRUST:

-2 1/4 cups all purpose flour.

-1 teaspoon salt (I use Kosher).

-1 envelope pizza crust yeast (can be found in the baking aisle of your local grocery. With this yeast, you don't have to wait long for dough to rise).

-1 tablespoon honey OR 1 1/2 teaspoons granulated sugar.

-3/4 cup warm water (120-180 degrees Fahrenheight.

-3 tablespoons regular olive oil.

-3 tablespoons plain yoghurt.

                                                                                                                              

INSTRUCTIONS FOR PREPARING THE PIZZA. DOUGH:

-In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, yeast and salt (do not put the salt directly on the yeast as it will kill the yeast and your dough won't rise).

-Add the honey, yoghurt, olive oil and water.

-Mix with a wooden spoon just until it comes together, then lightly flour a clean surface and continue kneading with your hands until the dough is smooth (around 4 minutes). The dough will be slightly sticky.

                                                                                    

-lightly grease the same mixing bowl you previously used, shape the dough into a ball and place it in the greased bowl. Lightly roll the ball of dough around in the greased mixing bowl to coat it with oil. Cover the mixing bowl with a fitting lid or cling foil and set aside as you work on the toppings.

OTHER INGREDIENTS FOR THE PIZZA:

-4 chicken breast cutlets, washed and patted dry with paper towel.

-2 tablespoons full-fat plain or Greek yoghurt.

-1 teaspoon cumin powder.

-2 teaspoons red chilli powder (divided in 1/2).

-1 teaspoon salt divided in 1/2.

-1 teaspoon coriander powder.

-1 tablespoon lime or lemon juice.

-1 tablespoon ghee (clarified butter).

-2 teaspoons tandoori powder (see link in the description box of my video to my amazon store where I sell this).

-1 tablespoon ginger/ garlic paste.

-1 teaspoon fenugreek leaves.

-1/2 teaspoon garam masala.

-1/4 teaspoon turmeric.

-small bunch of arugula.

-Chiffonade 5-6 fresh basil leaves (cut into long, delicate ribbons).

-1/2 cup grape tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise.

-1 cup grated mozzarella cheese or cheese blend for pizza.

-Pizza sauce (I bought mine at the grocery store).

-Canned pineapple chunks, drained.

-Red and orange peppers (capsicum), cubed. You can use any color peppers you like.

                                                                          

INSTRUCTIONS FOR PREPARING THE CHICKEN:

-In a medium bowl, place your chicken pieces and add the lemon juice, 1 teaspoon chili powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt into the bowl. Mix until the chicken pieces are well coated. Set the chicken aside and let it marinate for 10 minutes.

-In a smaller bowl, mix the yoghurt, tandoori masala, 1 teaspoon chilli powder, coriander, cumin, ginger/garlic paste, fenugreek, turmeric, garam masala and melted ghee and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Mix we'll till a paste forms.

-Once the 10 minutes is up, place the paste into the bowl with the chicken and combine well until the chicken is well coated.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

***In the meantime, preheat your heavy cast iron skillet on medium heat***

INSTRUCTIONS FOR SEARING THE CHICKEN:

-Once your cast iron is very hot, place the coated chicken into the skillet and toss using a wooden spoon to make sure that all sides are cooked (at least 5 mins) till there no liquids in the skillet. -Once the bottom of the skiklet has no liquids, remove the chicken from the skillet and set aside. Do not overcook it!                                                                                

***Preheat your oven to  425 degrees Fahrenheight****

ASSEMBLING YOUR PIZZA:

**For the best results, use a pizza stone to bake your pizza in the oven. If you don't have one, use a pizza pan like I have in the video (see picture below). I sell the same pizza pan on my online Amazon store. See link in the description box of the video for the link to my store.**

                                                                           

-Remove the pizza dough from the bowl and transfer over to a lightly greased pizza pan. Using the heel of your hands, flatten the ball of dough on the pizza pan to create a circle. Pay close attention to the edges of the dough as you want to create a "lip"(an area that is raised higher than the rest of the dough). That way, your sauce, cheese and toppings do not flow out of the crust as it bakes.

-Next, ladle some pizza sauce on the pizza dough and spread it to cover the surface of the dough (except for the lip).

-Sprinkle some cheese over the pizza sauce (the amount depends on how cheesy you want your pizza).

-Then sprinkle the arugula and basil on the pizza.

-evenly distribute the seared chicken pieces over the pizza in a single layer.

-Evenly distribute the peppers and cut grape tomatoes over the pizza.

-Evenly distribute the pineapples over the pizza.

-Follow up with another sprinkling of the grated mozzarella cheese over the other toppings (again, the amount you use depends on how cheesy you like your pizza).

-Once you've added all your toppings to the pizza, brush the "lip" with a little olive oil.

                                                                               

-Bake the pizza on the bottom rack of your oven for 15-20 minutes  until the cheese is bubbling and the crust is lightly browned (see pic below).

-Remove from the oven, let cool for 8 minutes, slice , serve and enjoy! You're welcome :) !!