I ventured into the world of fusion and decided to break the rules by making pizza with Indian toppings. I prepared a traditional paneer butter masala with a mixture of flavorful, bold spices. I used the spicy sauce as the primary flavor for the pizza. In addition, I sprinkled a little Parmesan cheese to hold everything together and finished it with fresh cilantro.
The trick to coming up with your own fusion dishes is to use one recipe as the “base” and then replace a key ingredient with something from another culture. The sauce and cheese used on pizza are perfect targets and paneer butter masala takes care of both. If you wanted to make it even more Indian, you could replace the pizza crust with a naan. It’s a great way to introduce new foods to kids in a way that’s familiar but fresh.
1. Info for Paneer Masala Pizza (Indian Style Pizza Recipe)
- Cook Time: 30 mins
- Total Time: 1 hr 10 mins
- Servings: 8
- Calories: 340 kcal
2. Ingredients for Paneer Masala Pizza (Indian Style Pizza Recipe)
- 1 (16-ounce) package paneer cheese (see tips), store-bought
- 1/3 cup heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 (14.5-ounce) can tomato sauce
- 4 tablespoons caramelized onions (see tips)
- 1/8 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 2 (14-gram) packages dry active yeast
- 1-½ cups bread flour
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 3-½ teaspoons salt
- 1 tablespoon raw honey
- 6 tablespoons olive oil, extra for drizzling
- 1 cup ice water
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon corn meal
- 1 (3-inch) chunk Parmesan cheese, freshly shaved
- 1 tablespoon cilantro, for garnish
- 1 teaspoon sumac (optional), for garnish
3.1 Making paneer butter masala
Cut the paneer cheese into 1-inch cubes. Heat the canola oil in a pan. Add the cheese cubes and pan-fry until they are golden brown. Transfer to a paper towel, leaving as much oil as possible in the pan.
In the same pan, add the grated ginger, cumin seeds and yogurt, stirring frequently. Pour into a blender, add the caramelized onions and pulse until the sauce is smooth. Add the heavy cream for a smoother flow. Set aside.
In the same pan, add the tomato paste, the sauce from the blender, turmeric powder and about 1-½ cups of water. Bring to a full boil then lower the heat to medium-high. Cover with a dome-shaped lid to enable the steam to fall back in the saucepan. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring often. Add tomato sauce and red chili powder. Season with 1-½ teaspoons salt. Add the fried paneer. Lower the heat and cook for another 8-10 minutes until the sauce thickens.
3.2 Enough dough for 2 pizzas
Warm ½ cup of water. Using a thermometer, the temperature should be between 105°F to 120°F.
In a little bowl, place the yeast, add the honey then pour in the warm water. Stir a little so the yeast dissolves and let it rest for 10-20 minutes.
Lightly oil the bowl of your food processor with a silicone brush. Then mix all the flours, yeast, the remaining salt, garlic powder and 1 cup cold water to form a dough. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled large bowl, add the olive oil and knead the dough until it becomes smooth. Cover with a towel, place the bowl in a warm spot and let the yeast do its magic. You’ll get a nice airy dough doubled in volume in about 2 hours.
A few hours later…
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
3.3 Assembling the pizza
Punch the air bubbles of the dough. Form 2 disks using a rolling pin. I do not dust the dough with additional flour. It will become heavy. I usually start rolling the dough between two sheets of wax paper then place the almost-shaped pizza on a pan. Dimple the dough with your fingers to shape the dough.
Meanwhile, place the pizza stone in the oven. Let the shaped pizza rest for another 15 minutes. It will increase in volume a little. Sprinkle some corn meal on the pizza stone. Transfer the pizza dough using a pizza peel (or a very large spatula) to the hot stone.
Spread the paneer butter masala onto the dough and sprinkle with Parmesan shavings.
Bake for 8-10 minutes.
Sprinkle with more Parmesan shavings and sumac (if desired). Garnish with cilantro and drizzle a little olive oil (you can also used chili-infused oil).
4. Tips and advices:
- Using warm water in addition to honey will help the yeast to develop and get a good result. The warm water reactivates the yeast which consumes the sweetener and produces carbon dioxide, leavening the dough. Gluten, formed by kneading the dough, traps the carbon dioxide. You’ll get nice airy dough.
- You could replace the paneer cheese with cubed tofu for a healthier pizza without cheese.
- For a meat version, you could use chicken butter masala instead of paneer.
- To gain time, you could replace the pizza dough with naans (Indian flat bread).
- You can find sumac in any Indian store. The pinkish powder brings a pleasant, sour note to the pizza. It’s usually used as seasoning for steamed basmati rice.
- You can make your own paneer or buy it in any Indian store. You can make mini-pizzas and serve them as appetizers. That’s how they serve them at Spago, Wolfgang Puck’s popular restaurant. It’s a great time-saver when you throw a buffet-style party.
- Reminder on how to caramelize onions: Heat about 1 tablespoon of oil in a non-stick pan. Add thinly sliced onions. Cook over medium-low heat for about 10-15 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent the onion from burning, until the color is evenly golden brown. To save time, I often have already-caramelized onions on hand in the freezer. I suggest making them in advance in large batches.