Monday, November 26, 2012

Chicken ChaNp...

Here is the Chicken ChaNp I made to go with the Biryani for Thanksgiving. To be honest, it tasted much better with Rotis. I followed the same recipe as I do for Mutton ChaNp (click here for mutton chanp recipe), with few minor changes. Though chaNp means the rib portion of the meat, since I used chicken I used a whole chicken cut into 4 pieces.

Things needed to make Chicken ChaNp:

  • Chichen (cut into 4 pieces): 800gm
  • Yogurt: 200 gm
  • Ginger paste: 3 tsp
  • Garlic paste: 4 tsp
  • Grated onion: 4-6 tbsp
  • Green Cardamom (Choto elach): 10-12
  • Black Cardamom (Boro elach): 3-4
  • Cloves: 7-8
  • Black pepper (whole): 1 tsp
  • Mace (Javitri): few blades
  • Nutmeg (Jaiphal): 1/4 tsp
  • Red chilli powder: 1 tbsp
  • Turmeric Powder: 1 tsp
  • Rose water: 1 tsp
  • Kewra essence: 4-5 drops
  • Salt to taste
  • Ghee: 100 gm

Steps of making Chicken ChaNp:

1. Clean and wash the chicken pieces. Dry them with a paper towel. Make slits on the flesh.

2. Dry roast green cardamom, black cardamom, cloves, mace, nutmeg, black pepper, cool down ground to powder.

3. In a bowl mix together garlic paste, ginger paste, grated onion, yogurt and freshly made spice powder. Add salt, red chili powder, turmeric powder, rose water, kewra essence and mix well. Add the chicken pieces and rub the marinade well to the meat.

4. Marinate at least for 4-5 hrs or overnight.

5. Take a non stick pan. Heat the ghee. I also added oil with the ghee.

6. When the ghee is hot add the marinated chicken pieces. Do not cover. Cook on high heat for 8-10 mins. Reduce heat and cook for 15-20 min. Keep turning the pieces in between.

7. By this time oil will separate from the spices. Keep cooking for 10 more min on high heat. Check the seasoning and adjust accordingly.

8. Serve with nan or rotis or biryani.

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Saturday, November 24, 2012

Chicken Biryani...

It was Thanksgiving, so I planed for a special family dinner. No it was not a turkey roast, I personally do not like turkey. I prefer chicken over turkey any day. So it was a desi-style thanksgiving dinner for us, with Chicken Biryani and Chicken ChaNp.

Wish you all a very happy Thanksgiving, and I'm taking this special opportunity to thanks all my readers, for your support and encouragement. Hope you all had a wonderful day with your family.

I followed the same process as I did for mutton biryani, but since I used Chicken there are a few minor changes in the ingredients for the marinade and the cooking time is also different. Otherwise all other steps are similar.

Please go through the Mutton Biryani recipe for step by step pics.

Things needed to make Chicken Biryani:

For the rice:
  • Basmati rice: 800gm/ 4cups
  • Bay leaves:2-3Cinnamon sticks(1inch): 3
  • Shah jeera/black cumin: 1tsp
  • Mace/javitri: 1 floret
  • Nutmeg/jaiphal: 1/4
  • Star anise: 1
  • Black peppercorn: 6-7
  • Salt: 2tsp

For the Biryani masala:
  • Cinnamon (1inch stick): 3
  • Cardamom: 5-6
  • Cloves: 7-8
  • Shah jeera/black cumin: 1tsp
  • Black cardamom: 2
  • Mace (javitri): 1floret
  • Nutmeg (jaiphal): 1/4
  • Black peppercorn: 7-8
  • Star anise: 2
  • Fennel: 1 tsp

To marinate the Chicken:

  • Chicken (cut into large pieces): 800gm
  • Greek Yogurt/Hung curd: 4tbsp
  • Ginger paste: 1tbsp
  • Garlic paste: 1tbsp
  • Salt: 1tsp
  • Biryani masala: 1tbsp
  • Red chili powder: 1tbsp
  • Other Ingredients:
  • Onion(thinly sliced): 2cups
  • Potato(halved): 2 medium
  • Hard boiled eggs: 3
  • Rose water: 2tsp
  • Kewra essence: 6-7drops
  • Milk: 1/4cup
  • Saffron strands: 1/2tsp
  • Oil
  • Ghee/Clarified butter

Steps of making Biryani:

To make the Biryani masala:

1. Dry roast all the spices separately on a pan. Let them cool down and make a powder. I always make a little more needed for the Biryani, the rest I store in an air tight container for future use. You can use this masala to make other Biryanis, like mutton or egg or vegetable Biryanis. Even you can add it to any meat preparations.

To prepare the meat:

1. Cut the chicken into large pieces. I cut a whole chicken into 6 pieces. Clean and wash the chicken, pat dry with a kitchen towel.

2. In a bowl mix Greek yogurt (or hung curd), ginger paste, garlic paste, salt and Biryani masala(1tbsp). Marinate the chicken pieces in this for 3-4 hrs, you can also marinate it overnight.

Making fried onions or Barista:

1. Slice the onions very thin. Separate the slices. Make the slices of equal thickness.

2. In a pan or kadai add oil (2 inch deep) and fry the onion slices till nicely brown. Take care not to burn them. Fry in small batches. Do not put all the slices at a time, that will lead to lumpy messy onions. Make sure all the onion slices frying are dipped in oil, if needed add more oil. Keep stirring continuously but gently for an even brown color.

3. Take the fried onions out with a slotted spoon or ladle. Keep them on a paper-towel lined plate. This crispy brown fried onion slices are called Barista. Keep half of the fried onions for later use and use half to cook the meat. Do not discard the oil, use it to cook the meat.

Cooking the chicken:

1. In the same pan where onions were fried take half of the fried onions and add the marinated meat and cook till almost done. The oil would be separated from the spices and there should not be any watery gravy to the meat. It takes around 20 min. Do not cover the pan, while cooking the chicken.

Preparing the filler (potato and egg):

1. Boil 3-4 eggs till hard. Cool down and shell the eggs. Fry the egg till the surface is golden brown and keep them aside.

2. For the potatoes, either use 4-5 small baby potatoes or cut 2 medium sized potato cut into halves. Peel the potatoes and wash well. Fry the potatoes till golden brown. I boiled the potatoes first then fried them.

Preparing the rice:

1. Use only good quality long grain Basmati rice. Soak the rice for 20 min in water. Wash well till the water runs clear. Drain all the water.

2. In a small piece of cloth take cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, mace, nutmeg, black peppercorn, shah jeera, star anise and tie a knot to make a bag(potli).

3. In a deep pan take loads of water and put bay leaf, salt, the spice bag and let the water boil. As the water rolls boiling add the rice. Cook till its done 3/4th. Drain and spread the rice on a tray.

Preparing the saffron-milk:

1.Take 1/4 cup warm milk in a cup and dissolve saffron strands in the milk. Cover and wait for 20 min. Add rose water and kewra essence in the milk. Mix well and cover. Keep aside.

Layering the Biryani:

1. Take a large heavy bottom pan with tight fitting lid. Add 2-3 tbsp ghee to the pan. Melt the ghee on low heat. Turn and rotate the pan carefully so the ghee can coat the bottom and sides of the pan. Switch off the heat.

2. Add a layer of cooked rice, then cooked meat pieces, potatoes, egg, sprinkle saffron water, sprinkle Biryani masala, add fried onion slices and ghee. Again add a layer of rice, then meat...go on like this till you are done. The top and bottom layer will be of rice.

3. Put the lid on. Seal the pan with flour dough. I did not use flour dough, I covered the pan with aluminium foil, then put the lid. Keep the heat to lowest. And cook the Biryani in this 'Dum' process for 40min. Make sure your pan is heavy-bottomed or the rice will burn. Or you can place a flat tawa or frying pan then keep the pan with Biryani on that. Some like to make a double boiler. For that, take a wide pan add boiling water to the wide pan and place your pan with Biryani on that wide pan.

After 40 min switch off the heat and let the Biryani stand for another 10 min. Transfer to a serving bowl. Serve with raita and salad.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Veg-saagwala...assorted veggies in spinach gravy

I  am sure all of us agree to the fact that seasonal eating is a very healthy habit.  We are used to seasonal diets depending upon the availability of veggies and fruits during different parts of the year and usually prepare different  platters during summer and  in winter.

I distinctly remember the first feel of summer with the pointed gourd (potol) curry with fish during my childhood and Luchi with green peas in the potato mishmash (alur torkari) for morning breakfast used to announce the winter in our platter.  Due to scientific and technological advancements made by us, now we can have all kinds of vegetables and fruits all throughout the year. The essence of seasonal exclusivity has been somewhat lost. The eagerness of having the first cauliflower or small potatoes (notun aloo)  during winter, or craving for the mangoes just as the summer sets in are beautiful memories that you always live with. 

As the winter is  slowly setting in, I prepared a very colorful  and tasty vegetarian dish. It has the goodness of spinach with other veggies and paneer. I learnt this delicious recipe from my culinary expert friend Jhum. A big thanks to her.

Whenever I have prepared this dish, either for a party or for my family, everyone loved it. And for all the moms out there who  are continuously looking for ways to feed more veggies to their kids, this one dish should be of help.

So here comes veg-saagwala. As the name suggests it has saag (spinach) and other vegetables. I also added paneer for extra taste and to add the protein quotient to the dish.

Things needed to make Veg-saagwala:

  • Spinach: a bunch
  • Carrot (diced): 1/4 cup
  • Potato (diced): 1/4 cup
  • Cauliflower (florets): 1/2 cup
  • Green pea: 1/4 cup
  • Paneer (cubes): 1 cup
  • Onion(finely chopped): 1/2cup
  • Ginger paste: 2tsp
  • Tomato: 1 large
  • Cumin powder: 1 tsp
  • Coriander powder: 1 tsp
  • Red chili powder: 1 tsp (or as per taste)
  • Turmeric powder: 1/2 tsp
  • Garam masala powder: 1 tsp
  • Kasuri methi: 1 tbsp
  • Salt to taste
  • Sugar to taste
  • Cream (optioanl): 1/4 cup
  • Butter: 1tbsp
  • Oil

How to make Veg-saagwala:

1. Wash the spinach very well. In a large pot boil water. When the water is rolling boil switch off the heat and put the spinach in the hot water. Cover and wait for 1-2 min. Drain out the water and wash the spinach with cold water. Chop the spinach and put it in a food processor to make a smooth paste. You can add green chilies while making the spinach paste.

2.  In a pan or kadai add oil, any vegetable oil is good. Fry the paneer cubes on high heat till the surface takes red-brown color. Keep them aside. Fry the potato cubes, carrot cubes and cauliflower florets separately and keep aside.

3. In the same oil (if needed add more), add the finely chopped onions, cook on medium heat till the onions starts changing color to brown. Add the ginger paste, mix well. The original recipe suggested for garlic paste, but I did not use it, as I like this dish without garlic. If you want you can always add garlic paste at this stage.

4. Deseed the tomato and chop them fine. Add the tomatoes to the onion and sprinkle little salt. Cover and cook on medium heat till the tomatoes are done.

5. Add cumin powder, coriander powder, red chili powder, turmeric powder and mic well. Cook till oil separates. Add the spinach paste and cook on high heat. As the spinach paste boils reduce the heat and let it cook for 5-6 min and stir in between.

6. Add the fried vegetables, add salt and sugar according to your taste. Cover and cook on low-medium heat for 5 min. Add the paneer cubes and mix well. Cook for 2 min. Add crushed kasuri methi and garam masala powder, mix well. Add cream (if using) and mix well. Switch off heat. Transfer to a serving bowl. Add butter and serve hot with roti or paratha or any other bread.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Kerala Crab Curry

If you ask me to name my favorite seafood, then it would be a toss up between prawns and crabs. I love both of them equally. Here in Austin, it is a tough ask to get hold of fresh prawns. My taste buds are so used to the fresh tiger prawns from our good old Kolkata fish market, the frozen and previously frozen prawns that I get here disappoints me every time.

Whenever I visit the local Vietnamese store, I would stop by the live crab section, trying to gather courage and convince myself that I can....I can handle these live clawed creatures in my kitchen. Since I never ever handled live crabs before and so spoiled by the fish mongers in kolkata fish market who cut and clean up fish/prawns/crabs for you, it took me a while to make up my mind and I am extremely glad that I did.

If you want to know how to dress and clean live crabs, click here, the way I did it.

After the dressing and time taking cleaning process, I was wondering what to prepare with these. My mother usually makes crab curries with bottle gourd (Lau-kankra), and that is my favorite. Since I did not have any bottle gourd, I opted for a famous Indian spice, the curry leaves. I made Kerala crab curry, flavored with curry leaves, with the rich, creamy texture of coconut milk. I made mine super hot as that's the way I like it. You can always adjust the heat quotient according to your choice.

Things needed to make Kerala crab curry:

  • Blue Crabs: 4
  • Onion (sliced): 1 cup
  • Garlic (chopped): 1/2 tbsp
  • Ginger (grated):  1/2tbsp
  • Tomato: 1 large
  • Green chilies (chopped): 2 (optional)
  • Cumin seeds (crushed): 1 tsp
  • Coriander seeds (crushed): 1 tsp
  • Curry leaves: 10-12
  • Dry red chilies: 5-6
  • Whole garam masala: 1stick cinnamon, 2-3 cardamom, 3-4 cloves
  • Star anise: 2
  • Thick coconut milk: 1/4 cup
  • Red chili powder: 2 tsp
  • Turmeric powder: 1 tsp
  • Garam masala powder: 1/2 tsp
  • Palm jaggery/sugar: 1tbsp
  • Salt to taste
  • Mustard oil

How to make Kerala crab curry:

1. Smear salt and turmeric powder to the crab (body, legs and claws), set aside for 20-30 min.

2. Heat oil in a kadai or pan, fry the crab pieces for 2-3 min on high heat. Keep them aside.

3. Add more oil if needed in the same kadai or pan. When the oil is hot add the sliced onions. Cook till transparent. Add chopped garlic and cook for 1-2 min. Add grated ginger, mix well and cook for 2 min. Deseed the tomato, chop it. Add the chopped tomatoes and chopped green chilies (if you are using them).  Add salt. Cover the pan and cook till tomatoes are done. Add crushed cumin and coriander seeds. Cook for few more minutes. Switch of the heat. Let it cool down. Transfer the masala to a food processor or a mixer grinder and make a smooth paste.

4. In a fresh pan add mustard oil, when the oil is hot add curry leaves, whole garam masala, star anise, dry red chilies. Cook on medium-high heat for 1-2 min. Add the freshly made paste. Reduce heat to medium and cook for 3-4 min. Add turmeric powder, red chili powder (you can use kashmiri red chili powder, if you want the dish to be less hot), and the palm jaggery (you substitute that with plain sugar), cook for 2-3 min. Add the fried crabs, cover and cook on low-medium heat for 5 min. Add coconut milk, mix well.

Check the seasoning, adjust accordingly. Cover and cook on low-medium heat for another 5 min. Switch off heat. Sprinkle garam masala powder, immediately cover the pan and let it stand for 5-6 min. Serve hot with steamed rice.

Friday, November 16, 2012

How to clean crabs..

I know it is scary thinking about dealing with live crabs, let alone dress them for cooking. Honestly speaking,  I was not very confident about it either. I searched the web to learn how to dress and clean the crabs and I found many. The live crabs with their claws might look scary but if you are careful while handling them it is not a very tough job and thought of a tastier treat awaiting at the end will make you feel strong surely. Like all other things in life, once you make up your mind, it is easy.

I have tried to explain the steps of dressing and cleaning the crab. If you have any further questions, feel free to ask.

When you buy live crabs, they will provide you  with a fairly strong paper bag to carry them back home , so don't worry.  The first step is to render them immobile. There are various ways suggested by people:

  • place the crabs in a paper bag in freezer for 15-20 min
  • give a big bang on their heads(just between the eyes) with the back of a knife to make them immobile.
  • boil a pot full of water and dip the crabs in them. 
  • put them in  your kitchen sink and pour boiling water on them.

I opted for what I felt was the easiest one for me. I picked them up with  a tong( fairly long one) and dipped them in a pot of boiling water for 20-30 sec and the job was done. 

 Now to dressing them up and cleaning.:

Take out the crab and wash well with cold water.

Turn the crab, you can see the tail. If the tail is thin and pointed then it is a male crab. Where as the female crab has a broad tail.
A male crab, thin pointed tail

Female crab, broad tail

With the help of a knife, flip the tail. Hold the crab tightly with your left hand (non-working hand) and grab the tail with right hand (working hand) and tear it apart.

Tear apart the tail
You can see a small hole after removing the tail. Hold the crab's body with your left hand. Put your right hand thumb on that hole and grab the top shell of the crab with your right hand and pull it. It will come off easily.

Pull apart the top shell

Discard the shell or you can wash and keep it to serve your crab meat.

Now next will not be a very pretty scene. After discarding the top shell, you need to clean the gills.

Discard the top shell

Take out the gills from both sides and discard. I also removed the yellow thing inside. Some keep it to make crab butter.

On the edge of head, there are some hard small flaps, remove them.

Wash well under running water
Wash under running water, and remove any remaining yellow stuff with your fingers.

After this separate the legs. Twist the legs to separate from the body. Do it gently so no meat is lost.

Clean the crab's body and legs with a clean hard bristle tooth brush under running water. Unfortunately, this needs lot of time and patience.

Now the crabs are ready to be cooked. Cook as you like. I made some Kerala crab curry.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Malpua...Indian sweet pancakes

Malpua or Malpoya is Indian sweet pancake soaked in sugar syrup. It is very popular in Bengal, specially made during the occasion of Poush-Sankranti.

There are widely varied recipes available for Malpuas. People make them differently based on their taste and choice. The basic ingredients for Malpua are Suji(semolina), flour, milk and sugar. Some add yogurt to it, some add home made cottage cheese(Chana), or some add fruits like coconut and banana. 

I follow the recipe I inherited from my grand-mother and my mom. My grand mother makes the best malpua I ever had. Whenever I make malpuas I always try to recreate that taste, but it can never be the same without my Dida's(grand mother) special touch.

Here is the malpua recipe for you all, make a bowl full and enjoy the festive season with friends and family.

Things needed to make Malpua:

For the Malpua batter: (This will make 10 Malpuas)
  • Milk: 1 cup/230 ml
  • Suji (semolina): 1/2 cup
  • Flour: 1/2 cup
  • Mawa (solidified milk): 1/3 cup
  • Baking powder: 1/4 tsp
  • Sugar: 2 tbsp
  • Fennel seeds(crushed): 1/2 tsp
  • Cardamom seeds(crushed): 1/4 tsp
  • Pistachio/almonds to garnish
  • Oil to deep fry

For the syrup:
  • Sugar: 2 cups
  • Water: 1 and 3/4 cups
  • Cardamom: 5-6

How to make Malpua:

1. Measure the milk and warm it. No need to boil the milk, just warm it. Add semolina/suji to the milk and mix well. Let it stand for 15-20 min. Again mix well.

2. Add flour, sugar and mawa, mix well. Grate the mawa before adding to the mixture. If you do not get mawa, replace it with milk powder(1/2 cup) and ghee(1/2 tbsp). Add crushed fennel seeds and cardamom seeds. Cover the mixture and let it stand for at least 1 hr.

3. In the meantime make the syrup. Add measured amount of sugar and water in a pan and let it boil. As the sugar dissolves completely, lower the heat to medium. Add cardamoms to flavor the syrup. Keep the syrup hot.

4. The batter will be thick, almost like cake batter. Heat sufficient oil in a pan for deep frying. As the oil is heating up, bit the batter well. Add baking powder to the batter just before frying.

5. When the oil is hot, reduce the heat to low. Take a ladle full of batter and deep fry till nicely brown. Keep the heat to medium-low. Take out on a paper lined plate. Dip it in the hot syrup.

6. While serving, take the malpuas from the syrup to the serving plate and garnish with chopped dry fruits of your choice.

Enjoy with friends and family...Happy Durga Puja and Navratri. This post is going to the Durga Puja Special event of Kolakata Food Bloggers.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Diwali special.... Laxmipriyar Malai Sandesh

It is almost Diwali, the festival of light. Most of you must be busy planning about making special sweets/desserts for friends and family. We always look for something easy yet delicious, quick yet crowd pleasing.

Few days back my friend Laxmipriya shared a very different dessert recipe with me. She called it malai sandesh. Malai is cream and sandesh is a Indian dessert made from homemade cottage cheese. So it is a combination of two. I liked the idea, and moreover the simplicity of the dish. 

When I made it for first time I was not sure how it's going to taste. But it surprised me. This Malai Sandesh is now one of my favorite desserts. I must confess that I'm not a very dessert loving person and there are very few dishes that makes me feel so content.  The softness of the sandesh, from freshly made cottage cheese, dipped in mildly sweet cream, flavored with was heavenly.

So here it is, the recipe for that wonderful Malai Sandesh for you all. And a big THANKS to Laxmipriya.

Things needed to make Malai Sandesh:

  • Chana/homemade cottage cheese: 1cup
  • Milk: 2 cup
  • Cream: 1/2 cup
  • Sugar: 2 tbsp + 4 tbsp
  • Green cardamom(crushed): 4-5
  • Ghee or butter to grease
  • Pistachio to garnish
  • Almonds to garnish
  • Saffron: Few strands

How to make Malai Sandesh:

1. First you need to make the chana/homemade cottage cheese. For that, boil 1 liter of milk in a heavy bottom pan. Keep the heat to medium and keep stirring to prevent from the milk to stuck to the bottom. As the milk boils add lime juice or vinegar. The milk will curdle. Use a cheese cloth lined strainer to strain the cheese. Wash the cheese with ice cold water. Let it stand on the strainer for 5-10 min and drain out the excess water. Do not drain it for long, the chana has to be moist enough. For step by step chana/homemade cottage cheese making process go to the Chana poda recipe.

2. Take the chana in a large plate and mash it with the heel of your palm, till no lumps are found (for 3-4 min). Add sugar(2 tbsp) and sprinkle crushed cardamom seeds(1/4 tsp) to the chana, mix well. I used granulated sugar.  The chana should be sticky and moist. If it is not moist, add little(1-2 tbsp) milk to it.

3. Grease a microwave safe bowl with butter or ghee. Layer the chana mix on the greased bowl. The layer should be just about 1 inch thick. Cook the chana in microwave oven for 2 min on high power. Let it stand for 2-3 min. The quick sandesh is ready.

4. Cool down the sandesh. Take it out on a plate and cut into small pieces. Keep aside.

5. In a heavy bottom pan add milk(2 cup) and cream(1/2 cup). I used heavy cream. Cook on a medium heat and keep stirring. Add the rest of the  crushed cardamoms. Cook the milk and cream mixture till reduced to 3/4th. Add rest of the sugar(4 tbsp). Mix well. Switch off the heat. Add the cooked and cubed chana(the freshly made sandesh). Let it stand for 1-2hrs.

6. Blanch pistachio and almonds, skin them and chop them.

7. Garnish with pistachio, almonds and saffron strands. Serve cold.

Malai Sandesh

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Tuesday, November 6, 2012


It has been nearly a year since I  tried  my  hand first at  making a pizza at home. Fed up with Pizza hut, Domino's....I wanted to make one on my own from scratch. Since I am not very confident about my baking skills, I wasn't sure if I could get the dough and the pizza bread right. But a very simple and lucidly explained recipe motivated  me to try my hand at making pizza at home.
It was Devlina di's simple pizza crust recipe, that inspired me to make my first one. The way she explained every single steps, it seemed like the easiest thing to do. Of course being a novice I kept on asking her several questions, and she was always there to help me out.
And if it was Devlina di's recipe that helped me to try my hand at making pizza, there was someone whose continuous encouragement made me believe that yes I can do it. Whatever may be distance between Vizag and Austin, whatever may be the time difference, thanks Subrata Da for being there.
After I made the first one, it felt like wow...!!! I was so happy. Then with time, I have tried several other recipes from  different  cookbooks and Internet. Now I do not peek into the bowl of the dough to check whether it's rising or not and don't keep on asking the man, 'hyan go thik thak hobe to?' (will it come out right?).
The secret of a good pizza is its crust, the bread. If the bread is good, any topping will taste good, either cheese or veggies or meat or a combo. Generally I do the crust almost without oil, but this time I did use some. The following recipe is adapted from, Sicilian style basic square pan pizza dough.

Things needed to make pizza dough:

  • Bread flour: 3 cup
  • Flour to dust during kneading: 1/2cup-3/4cup
  • Rapid rise yeast: 1tsp
  • Lukewarm water: 1cup + 1/2cup
  • Salt: 2tsp
  • Sugar: 1tsp
  • Olive oil: 1/4cup

Steps of making pizza dough:

1. Proof the yeast: Lightly warm 1/2cup water in a deep bowl. The water should be just warm, it should not be too hot. I prefer to proof my yeast, even the jar or the packet says no need to proof. Actually proofing the yeast is the prove of that the yeast is still active. The best temperature for yeast is 75-80F. If you have a food thermometer you can use to check the water temperature. I just put my finger in the water to check its temperature. If its comfortable for my skin, then it is OK. It should feel just warm to the skin, not hot.

Add dry yeast and sugar to the warm water, mix well. Cover the bowl and wait for 10min. The sugar acts as food for the yeast. As the yeast proofs it bubbles up, so better use a deep bowl. If the bowl is too small, then it may spill.

2. In a large bowl add bread flour(3cups), salt, 2tablespoon olive oil, activated yeast and rest of the warm water(1cup), mix well. Use a spatula or ladle to mix it, as it's going to be very sticky. If you have a standing mixture then your job will be much more easier. But I do not have one and I use my hand. After mixing the flour properly(5-6min), close the bowl tightly and let it stand for 4-6hrs, depending on the room temperature. Keep the bowl in the warmest corner of the kitchen. I have seen during summer(specially summer in Asutin) it hardly takes 3hrs to raise the dough. But during winter it takes 6hrs or more.

3. By this time the dough will be more than double in size. Punch down the dough. Divide the dough into two equal halves. Better use a greased dough cutter or scraper to divide the dough. You can wrap one with cling film and keep it in the fridge for later use. I prefer to work with one at a time. You can store pizza dough in the fridge. Take the dough out of the fridge at least 2hrs before baking.

4. Kneading the dough. Dust the clean kitchen counter(or a large chopping board) with flour and knead the dough. Dust your palm with flour and with one palm stretch the dough away from you. Then fold it. Turn the dough 90degree, again stretch it out, then fold it and again turn it 90 degree. In the beginning the dough will be quite sticky, so keep dusting the kitchen counter(or chopping board) with flour. Keep kneading for 10min. Here I have attached a video to show you how to knead the dough.

By this time the dough will no more stick to your hand and it will take a proper shape. I know it is not easy to knead for 10 long minutes, hand and arm start to pain, but we all know no pain no gain.. :)

5. Take a deep baking tray. Grease it with 2tablespoon oil, use your fingers to spread it properly. Put the dough in the baking tray and stretch it with your finger to fit in the tray. Cover with a cling film and let the dough rise for 2hrs.

6. Prepare the sauce and toppings. As the dough is rising prepare the sauce and the toppings. This time I made a red sauce.

Things needed to make red sauce:

  • Tomato: 3-4large
  • Garlic(chopped): 2-3 cloves
  • Fresh basil(chopped): 1tbsp
  • Olive oil: 1tbsp
  • Salt to taste
  • Black pepper: 1/2 tsp
  • Sugar: 1tsp
  • Balsamic vinegar: 1tsp(optional)

Steps of making red sauce:

1. Deseed the tomatoes and chop into small pieces.

2. In a pan add olive oil, when the oil is hot add the chopped garlic. Cook for 1min. Add chopped tomatoes. Add salt. Cook till the tomatoes are mushy. Add sugar and black pepper powder. Mix well. Cook for 1-2min. Add chopped basil leaves. Switch off the heat and add balsamic vinegar, if you are using. Let it cool down. Put it in a food processor and make a smooth paste. Keep aside.
For the topping, I used red and green bell peppers(cut into strips), red onion(sliced), kalamata olives, chicken(pre-cooked), mozzarella cheese and fresh basil leaves.
Assembling the pizza. After 2hrs the dough will nicely rise. Pre-heat the oven to 500F/250C. Brush olive oil on the top of the dough. Put red sauce(or any sauce of your choice), then cheese(you can mix more than one cheese), then your favourite toppings.
Put the baking tray on the preheated oven on the middle rack. Close the oven door and reduce the heat to 450F/230C and bake for 15-20min till the cheese melts and turns brown at places.  You can use any sauce or any topping of your choice.

Carefully take out the baking tray from oven, cut into pieces and serve hot. I know many of you still thnking if it's possible for you to make the dough from scratch. I will say just try once your hand on this and you will never order it from the pizza shops. Enjoy with friends and family.

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