This International Pizza Pie party could have gone either way for me.

IMG_3391 I guess I have Eyjafjallajökull aka the Icelandic volcano to thank for completing it.

Last Friday, my girls and I were destined for a wild chicks party, visiting my sister in the UK and leaving the boys at home. Well, as wild as you can get with an over-the-hill mother and two girls under 7! We didn’t get to go though, because flights all over Europe were grounded. I am thankful, and my heart goes out to those stuck at airports – far from home and far from their destinations.

Once that was sorted (and bags left unpacked), I started thinking of what to bring to celebrate with Penny, on her birthday, and with the other International ? Incidenters, especially after a roaring gnocchi party.

The theme this month was pizza pie and I wanted some ‘meaty’ pizza.

iip-pizzaThen my mind went to Tandoori flavours/chicken, which I hadn’t made in ages and the idea was born.

I dug out my Little Guides to Pizza and settled on making a focaccia base. Ever since I discovered the technique of ‘Healthy bread in 5 minutes a day’, pioneered by Zoe and Jeff, I’ve given up the 1st knead in my doughs. I know there are those who argue that bread is not bread without sweat and tears. I say do what suits you best and what is most convenient.

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Once the choice was made, I went for a walk with one daughter, to the most beautiful trio of blossom trees I’ve seen this season, scared that the trees would be completely devoid of pastel petals. Another reason I was glad we stay home this weekend.

IMG_3112I was amazed to see dandelions poking up through the green, surrounded by a sea of pink petals.

IMG_3120There’s something about the plants, and the sheer beauty of it that humbles me. Be it in Autumn, when golds and russets are rife, or the starkness of a white Winter morning, I love the seasons, for each has its own magic.

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Later on Saturday evening, I marinated the chicken breasts in yogurt, butter and spices and then mixed up the dough. Both went into the fridge, ready for baking on Sunday morning.

And then Sunday afternoon, I rustled up the pizza in no time, post oven-baking the chicken and pre-baking the crust.

To cut a long story short, the husband said, when he sunk his teeth into some of our pizza pie, ‘Why don’t Indians and Chinese sellpizza?’ I laughed. A couple of bites down the road he says to me ‘This is lovely. Did you make the base?’ I replied ‘Yes’. And I wasn’t at all upset that he hadn’t noticed for the day before, my non-DIY husband put together a trampoline in our back garden for the kids. While he did this, he brought out an assortment of tools I didn’t know existed. Now if you knew my husband, you would consider this an amazing feat. Akin to a footballer winning the gold medal at a tennis match – or something weird like that! My husband has been transformed by the warmth of Spring into an amazing handyman, complete with goggles and gloves!

So, like I said, I was only too proud to respond in the affirmative. He found the pizza absolutely delicious.

As did I, especially with the treasures I dug out of the 2nd layer of the fridge – the jar corner. Full of pickles, chutnies and jams, that is one valuable treasure spot in my fridge. I scooped spoonfuls of orange and papaya chutney, your trad’ mango chutney, some lime pickle and some pickled peas, I made last week for the weekly challenge at food52.

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I really enjoyed the sweet, savoury and spicy mix. But then again, Indian cuisine is one of my absolutely favourite cuisines so this was no surprise.

The base was not the softest but then I rolled it a bit too thin. However, it had the requisite focaccia holes! The edges were deliciously crispy and the melted ‘plain’ mozarella, was the perfect sailboat for the flavours of coriander leaves and tandoori spice. Yum.

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I personally don’t like prescribing pizza recipes, for everyone has the peculiar flavours they enjoy, so take my scribblings as mere suggestions!

Next time, I won’t pre-bake the crust, preferring to have it softer than this time.

The dough makes enough for 1 foccacia or two pizza bases. I made 1 pizza and used the remaining dough to make Naans!

If I had Coriander pesto, I would have used that instead, even though my herb cubes, mixed with oven-dried tomatoes formed a good base. Of course, you could also use passata.

Roasted Patiala Chicken Pizza

Makes one larger than medium pizza

Ingredients

1 pre-baked pizza base (recipe below)
1 oven-roasted chicken breast, sliced thinly (recipe below)
A briefly cooked paste of coriander cubes and oven-dried tomatoes and dried red chilies
200g fresh Mozzarella cheese, sliced into thin rounds
Basil leaves, to top
Chutneys to serve

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How to assemble the pizza

Preheat the oven to 230 deg C/475 deg F

Using your pre-cooked base, cover it with coriander pesto and some passata, being careful to leave a 1cm rim all around.

Top with about half of the slices or torn bits of mozzarella and place the chicken slices, then top with the rest of the cheese.

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Finish off with some basil leaves, carelessy strewn….or in military order, a sprinkling of salt and some olive oil.

Bake for 12 – 15 minutes until the cheese is melted and a finger dipped in the centre results in an unserious ouch. Meaning heated through.

Serve as you desire – with chutneys, fresh coriander leaves, yogurt…..and some refreshing mint tea.

Foccacia pizza base, From Little Guidess to Pizza, published by Fog City Press

Ingredients

20g Bakers/Fresh yeast (or 2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast)
1 cup (250ml) lukewarm water
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (I subbed 1/4 cup all-purpose for the same amount of wholewheat)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
Extra flour for dusting

How to make the dough

In a large mixing bowl, stir the yeast and 1/4 cup of the lukewarm water and let it stand about 10 minutes (if using fresh baker’s yeast, the water may not turn creamy, as if using active dry)

Add 3/4 cup of flour, the salt and the soriander and cumin seeds and whisk till smooth. Then stir in the remaining 1 cup of flour, until the dough comes together in a rough mass.

At this stage, you can knead for 8 – 10 minutes until velvety before placing in an oiled bowl and left to rise for 1 1/2, till dough is doubled in bulk.

Or, you can do as I did. Don’t knead, but  place the dough in a bowl (I forgot to oil man) and cover, leaving the top slightly ajar. Leave at room temperature for the required 1 1/2, and you will notice the dough rise and form a curved, round top. Then pop into the refrigerator and leave overnight till ready to use.

Note that the following day, the dough will have collapse and a rather flat top will have formed as a result. The dough will also be quite wet. If using all of the dough, sprinkle some flour on top and ease the dough out of the bowl. If using a portion, also sprinkle some flour, but use a pair of kitchen scissors to snip the required amount.

The dough is sufficient for two 8inch/20 cm cake pans.

Place a portion of dough in a lightly oiled cake pan and gently stretch it out to the edges. I find that flouring the edge of my thumb and using that as the push, helps me edge the dough out, rather than pressing it outwards with my finger(tip)s.

If the dough is too tough to work with, cover and set it aside and let it rest for 10 minutes, then work again.

Once the round is formed, cover with a (damp) kitchen towel and let rise till doubles in bulk and puffy (about 45 minutes).

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Using your fingertips, dimple the dough in several places, leaving indentations about 1/2 inch/1cm+ deep. Cover again with a kitchen towel and let rise for 20 minutes.

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While the dough has its second rise, pre-heat your oven to 230 deg C/450 deg F/Gas Mark 6, and pizza stone, if using.

Bake the base until golden and cooked through, 15 – 18 minutes. Remove from the oven and brush with olive oil and sprinkle some salt.

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Roasted Patiala Chicken, from Indian Perfection, edited by Neil Hargreaves

Ingredients

1 medium onion, peeled and coarsely grated/pureed in a food processor
2 tablespoons natural yogurt
2 skinless chicken breasts
1 teaspoon salt
4 cloves garlic, chopped or minced
2 tablespoons coriander leaves, chopped (or 2 coriander cubes)
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder or a 1 inch piece fresh turmeric, skinned and grated
4 cardamom pods, seeds reserved and husks discarded
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 tablespoons tandoori spice mix

How to make the chicken

Cook the onion in a small saucepan, with some butter or oil for about 5 minutes, then cool

Using a mortar and pestle, grind the salt, coriander and cardamom seeds to a coarse paste. Transfer to a non-metallic bowl and stir in the yogurt, melted butter, tandoori paste and onion puree. Mix well together.

Hasselback each chicken, and by that I mean, cut through each breast in 8 – 10 places and put in paste, turning well so every portion is coated. If you like, you can stuff the paste into the slants.

Cover and chill for 6 hours – overnight

When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 220 deg C, about 460 deg F and place breasts on a rack in a roasting dish. Cook for 20 -25 minutes until tender and the juices run clear when the chicken is skewered.

Set aside one for the pizza and serve the other with some basmati rice!

I am so looking forward to our next International Incident Groove.

Join us will you?

And if you can’t decide whether or not to, check out the other delicious offerings brought to the party – you’ll find it difficult to choose one!

Phots are on Flickr and individual servings can be found here:

IMG_3148 Happy Birthday again, Penny. Lots of love.

I’m sending this on to yeast-spotting too….a weekly showcase of delicious baked goods!

…And I haven’t forgotten about the Bajan Cooking class, that is still on the menu. *Mwah*

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