Monday, December 22, 2008

Tandoori Chicken Pizza: India meets Italy via Amsterdam

My husband and I were walking through Vondelpark in Amsterdam years ago when we stumbled across a little tourist-trap of a cafe with this interesting item on the menu. One bite into it, and we decided we had to find a way to make it at home.

You can make it with leftover chicken tikka, if you've indulged in Indian food lately, but you can't beat the smokey flavor of tandoori chicken hot off the grill. Typical pizza spices don't work with this recipe, so I whipped up an easy patia -- a Parsi tomato curry with sweet, hot, and sour notes -- to use as a sauce. Make big batches of both -- they freeze well and can be used for other meals.

The pizza has a great balance of heat and sweet; add some melted mozarella and a crunchy-crisp crust, and it satisfies on every level.

Tandoori chicken pizza
Serves 4

1 pound pizza dough (recipe follows, or use store-bought)
1/3 to 1/2 cup pattia sauce (recipe follows)
1/2 pound tandoori chicken breast, cut into thin strips (about 2 cups, recipe follows)
1/2 to 3/4 cup shredded whole-milk mozarella cheese
1/4 cup Patak's Major Grey mango chutney
corn meal for dusting the pizza stone and peel
flour for dusting worksurface

- Dust pizza stone with cornmeal, place in cold oven.
-Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
-Dust the pizza peel with corn meal. Flour the work surface and roll the dough out to a thin disk. Transfer it to the pizza peel.
- Spoon the pattia in the center of the dough and use the back of the spoon to smooth it evenly over the entire disk in a thin layer.
- Slice the tandoori chicken into very small strips and arrange them on top of the sauce.
- Using two small spoons, dot the chicken and sauce with mango chutney. Sprinkle the pizza with shredded cheese.
- Transfer to the hot oven and bake until crust is golden and cheese is bubbly. Serve immediately.

Pizza dough
Adapted from Giada DiLaurentis; makes about 1 pound

3/4 cup warm water
1 envelope active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup "white whole wheat" flour
1 teaspoon white sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 Tablespoons olive oil
extra flour for dusting the counter while rolling
1 tsp extra olive oil for coating the bowl during rising

- Dissolve the yeast in the warm water, set aside for 5 minutes.
- Sift together the flours, salt, and sugar. Pour into the bowl of a standing mixer.
- Add the olive oil and dissolved yeast. Process until the dough comes together into a sticky ball.
- Turn out onto a floured work surface and knead about 5 minutes, until dough is smooth and elastic.
- Brush a large glass bowl with 1 teaspoon olive oil, put dough into the bowl, and turn to coat it all over.
- Cover loosely and allow to rise at room temp for about 1 hour.
- Punch dough down and roll out into a thin disk. Use immediately, or par-bake for about 4 minutes, cool, and freeze.

Patia Sauce
Makes about 3 cups

1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes in juice, no salt added
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large vidalia onion, minced
1 tablespoon minced garlic
10 whole cloves
2 3-inch-long pieces whole cinnamon stick
10 green cardamom pods, slightly crushed
1 teaspoon garahm masala
1 teaspoon dark brown sugar
2 Tablespoons cider vinager
cayenne pepper to taste

- Heat the oil in a deep-sided pan until it starts to shimmer.
- Add the minced garlic and onion and fry until onion becomes translucent, about 5 minutes.
- Add the whole spices, fry until fragrant. Add the canned tomatoes and their juices, stir well.
- Sprinkle with Garahm Masala powder and allow to simmer, covered, for about 15 minutes.
- Mix together sugar and vinager; add to sauce. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt, pepper, and cayenne.
- Remove whole spices before using (or freezing in 1-cup portions).

Tandoori chicken
Makes enough for about 4 pizzas

6 chicken breasts, skin and extra fat removed
1/2 cup plain non-fat yogurt
1/2 jar Pataks tandoori paste
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1 Tablespoon garahm masala
1 teaspoon ground ginger
pinch cayenne pepper

- Wash chicken in cold water, then slice into 1/2-inch thick strips.
- In a large bowl, mix the yogurt, tandoori paste, lemon juice, and spices. Add the chicken, turn to coat. Cover and marinade for at least 1 hour or as long as overnight.
- Prepare a charcoal or gas grill, or heat a lightly oiled grill pan on the stove over medium-high heat. Add the chicken, being careful not to crowd the pan, and cook without touching until the chicken turns opaque, about 5 minutes. Turn and cook 2 to 3 minutes more. Discard marinade. Chicken will be slightly underdone (which is fine, since they will finish cooking on the pizza).
- Package in 1 1/2- to 2-cup portions and freeze.

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