Sunday, January 11, 2009

1001 Paratha Pizzas

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When my 6 year old nephew K insisted he’ll have nothing but pizza for dinner, and I had no pizza dough ready, I just topped a parota with tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese and baked it. He loved it, though he later casually remarked that he  liked the Indian pizza that I made ( you can’t fool kids !) . I was surprised to see the same offered in Hotel Chendur on Greams road. Actually, paratha pizzas are easier to make and infinitely variable. With hundreds of parathas being cooked across India, a paratha pizza makes great sense. It could be a nice fusion food, with mozzarella cheese alone being a ‘novel’ addition. 

What is pizza anyway ? A flatbread topped with cheese, sauce, toppings  and baked. A variety of flatbreads can be used as a pizza base. All these are leavened ( using yeast / baking powder), because a thick unleavened bread  will be tough and chewy . Parathas are not leavened – traditional Indian cuisine uses neither yeast nor baking powder. Instaed it invented its own technique to make a thick bread edible – by layering it like a puff pastry or by stuffing it with a variety of goodies. This unique invention led to an array of thick but soft flatbreads – the parathas. 

So instead of using a leavened flatbread as a pizza base, we here use a range of parathas. These are quicker to make, infinitely variable and are familiar to Indians. And they do taste bloody delicious. 

The change I’ve made in the recipe is not to use oil while cooking the parathas so that they remain dry and not oily.

Perfect for this cold weather, warm and cozy and fits in perfectly with Pallavi's Sunday Snacks event. It also fits in well with Sindhura's Bread Mania event.

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Chennai, Tamilnadu, India
Okay, let me start from the very beginning. 1500 crore years ago, with a Big Bang, the Universe is born. It expands dramatically. Hydrogen forms, contracts under gravity and lights up, forming stars. Some stars explode, dusting space with the building blocks of life. These condense into planets, one of which is Earth. Over time, self replicating molecules appear, multiply and become more complex. They create elaborate survival machines (cells, plants, animals). A variety of lifeforms evolve. Soon, humans arise, discover fire, invent language, agriculture and religion. Civilisations rise and fall. Alexander marches into India. Moguls establish an empire. Britain follows. Independence. Partition. Bloodshed. The license raj is in full sway. I'm born. India struggles to find its place. Liberalisation. The Internet arrives! I move from Tirupur to Chennai. Start a company. Expand into Malaysia, Singapore and the Middle East. Poof! Dot com bust. Funding dries up. Struggle. Retire. Discover the joy of cooking, giving, friendships and the pleasures of a simple life. Life seems less complicated. Pizza Republic, Pita Bite and Bhojan Express bloom !

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