Naan Pizza

Naan Pizza recipes have been around for a while & I’m joining the bandwagon. If only I had known how easy this meal would be. I had dinner on the table in under 30 minutes, and it was really delicious!

Naan Pizza

I’m all for convenience and used store bought naan but you make it from scratch if you like. (You can try this Naan recipe here with over 1500 reviews!!) As for toppings, our pizzas show ground turkey but you can use any protein of your choice – tandoori / rotisserie chicken, shrimp, paneer, tofu or even just veggies like mushrooms, broccoli, tomatoes, onions, etc. The recipe below is more of a guide and can be customized as you like.

My kids preferred a plain base, but you can start by spreading a spoon of pizza sauce, green chutney, etc before topping with meat, veggies and cheese.

Serve a fresh salad with Cilantro-Lime Dressing to make an easy and tasty summer meal. Click here for recipe.

Cilantro Lime Dressing

Naan Pizza

For meat / paneer topping:

  • 1 lb ground meat OR drained & crumbled paneer or tofu
  • 3 tbsp onion powder (or 1 medium onion, chopped)
  • 1 tsp garlic powder (or 1 tsp garlic paste)
  • 1 tsp ginger powder (or 1 tsp ginger paste)
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
  • 1/2 tsp cloves powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp coriander (dhania) powder
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder (or to taste)
  • salt
  • lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp oil

1) Heat oil in a wide pan on medium flame.

2) Add all the spice powders and quickly stir for a few seconds, allowing it to get frothy or ‘bloom’ (If using fresh onion, ginger & garlic – add them to the oil first and saute till just starting to brown. Then add the spice powders.)

3) Add the ground protein and mix well with the spices. Continue cooking on medium-high heat, stirring frequently to break up lumps and ensure even cooking.

4) Cook about 10 minutes and adjust salt. Top with lemon juice. Remove from heat and set aside.

For the pizza:

  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (if you can lay hands on AMUL cheese at the Indian store, definitely use it.)
  • 4 fresh / frozen naans of your choice (I used frozen garlic naan from Trader Joe’s)
  • 1 small red onion – finely sliced (optional)
  • green chili and mint / cilantro chutney (optional)
  • few sprigs of cilantro – finely chopped (optional)

1) Preheat the oven to 400*F

2) Lay naans on a baking sheet and top with 1 tsp of sauce or chutney of choice.

3) Spread a 1/4 of the topping mixture on the naan and spread evenly. Top with sliced onions if desired.

4) Now top with 1/4 cup cheese and place in the oven for about 3-4 minutes till cheese is melted.

5) If you want a crunchy crust (delicious!), remove the pizza from the baking sheet and gently slide directly onto the oven rack; cook for another 2-3 minutes.

6) Carefully slide onto serving plate and top with fresh chopped cilantro before serving.

(My son enjoyed it with a drizzle of Maggi Hot & Sweet sauce.)

[Gas Grill Method: preheat grill on high for 10 minutes. Lightly brush each naan with oil and grill for about 30 seconds per side. Remove to a plate and reduce grill heat to medium-low. Top naan with your choice of ingredients and grill covered for another 5-6 minutes till cheese is melted.)

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Patterned Jelly Roll

 Patterned Swiss Roll

Love is a game that two can play and both win. ~ Eva Gabor

For Valentine’s Day, I’m sharing the recipe for a Patterned Jelly Roll (or Swiss Roll). I had seen this on the Wilton website a while back, and noticed a few bloggers posting some amazing ideas. Finally got around to giving it a try and I love it. My design incorporates the hearts ubiquitous to Valentine’s Day, but with a slight desi twist 🙂 – I imagined a henna design cake for a mehendi party! The possibilities are endless here – you could personalize the cake with names, logos, themes, characters, wishes, etc. The combinations of colors and flavors are your choice.

Patterned Jelly Roll

For the design:

  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 2 Tbsp butter (softened)
  • 1 large egg white (room temperature)
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbsp cocoa powder (for chocolate flavor) OR gel food color of choice

For the cake:

  • 1 (18.25oz) box Duncan Hines golden yellow cake mix OR flavor of choice
  • 3 whole eggs
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil

Other:

  • Powdered sugar for dusting
  • Chocolate Frosting OR flavor of choice
  • Piping bag & tip OR  small ziplock bag
  • 2 clean kitchen towels
  • parchment paper
  • 12 1/2 X 17 1/2 inch Jelly Roll pan (similar sizes easily available for a few $)
  • Design printed on (2) 8 1/2 X 11 sheets of paper

1) Find a pattern that you like and print or draw it onto a long 12X17 sheet of paper, or onto 2 horizontally taped letter size (8 1/2 X 11) sheets.

Patterned Swiss Roll

2) Place it on your jelly roll pan and lightly tape down at the edge, making sure that the tape overhangs and is easily reachable with your fingers.

3) Place parchment paper on top of your design, making sure that it comes up the sides of the pan. If the sheet is too large, cut down to size. Gently tape down on one or two sides only if necessary.

Patterned Swiss Roll

4) It helps to make a small diagonal slit at the corners of the parchment paper so that it stays in place more easily.

5) Lightly grease the parchment paper with a thin layer of butter – either ‘paint’ it on using a pastry brush OR rub a stick of butter on the paper to cover evenly. Set pan aside.

6) In a medium bowl, cream the butter and sugar together with an electric mixer till fluffy.

7) Add the egg white and beat till well incorporated.

Patterned Swiss Roll

8) Add the flour and cocoa (or food color) and gently mix till no streaks remain.

9) Spoon into the piping bag with tip and secure. (If using ziplock bag – fill, remove air & seal; then snip off a small corner to make a small hole for piping.)

Patterned Swiss Roll

10) Carefully pipe the design on top of the parchment paper by following the pattern underneath.

11) Place the pan in the freezer for about 15-20 minutes for the design to firm up.

12) Meanwhile, heat oven to 325* F [If you bake often, it really helps to have an oven thermometer handy (very inexpensive). Most ovens are not calibrated correctly, and may affect the quality of your food. For example, mine is off by about 30* and I didn’t know for almost 6 years!]

13) In a large bowl, prepare the box cake mix according to directions using the water, eggs & oil.

IMG_1071 IMG_1072

14) Remove pan from freezer,and gently slide out the printed paper pattern from under the parchment using the overhanging tape.

15) Gently pour 2 full cups of batter on top of the design and spread evenly all the way to the corners using a dinner knife or offset spatula.

16) Bake in center of oven for 8 minutes.

17) After 8 minutes, turn the jelly roll pan around so the rear is now in the front. This allows even cooking. Cook for another 7-8 minutes.

18) While the cake is cooking, clear the counter and get a cooling rack ready.

19) Remove cake from oven when time is up and place on cooling rack.

20) Roll the cake with the parchment paper loosely and carefully set it seam side down on rack for 2-3 hours to cool completely. Do not disturb or move it.

Patterned Swiss Roll

21) Once completely cool, unroll the cake onto a flat surface and spread frosting or whipped cream & fruit and spread evenly, leaving a half inch clearance at the edges.

22) Re-roll and serve sliced.

NOTE:-  Meanwhile, use the rest of the batter to make cupcakes – I filled mini cupcake liners and used the remaining chocolate batter  to draw little hearts on top. Bake according to instructions on the box.

Patterned Swiss Roll

Tofu Sofritas (Vegan)

Tofu Sofritos

Original Chipotle Tofu Sofritas is braised (seared on high heat in fat, then simmered in a liquid) in a combination of spicy peppers and spices. While I would have loved to replicate the exact recipe, I didn’t want to buy 1-use ingredients like poblano, adobo, etc. This version here is quite close in taste, but easier and not as saucy as the original. You can use store bought taco seasoning or make your own blend with ingredients at home.

Tofu Sofritas

  • 1 (16 oz) extra firm tofu (if not available, use firm)
  • 3-4 Tbsp oil
  • 1 medium onion (chopped fine)
  • 3 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 2 Tbsp taco seasoning
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder
  • 1 tsp dry oregano
  • 1-1/2 tsp cumin powder
  • 1/3 cup salsa (or 2 Tbsp tomato paste & 2 Tbsp water/stock/beer mixed together)
  • salt to taste

1) Drain tofu from package and press to remove as much moisture as possible.

2) Move to a bowl and crumble the tofu with your hands or a fork.

3) Mix in the taco seasoning, red chilli powder, cumin and oregano.

4) Heat a wide & thick-bottom pan, and add oil.

5) Add the minced garlic and saute till golden. Do not burn it.

6) Add the chopped onions and saute on medium-high till it starts to brown lightly.

7) Now add the seasoned tofu and stir fry on medium-high for 3-4 minutes, stirring often. Add another teaspoon or two of oil if the tofu mix sticks to the bottom of the pan.

8) Add in the salsa or tomato paste mixture and mix well. Continue stir frying till well incorporated and the mixture is almost dry. Adjust salt to taste. Top with chopped cilantro if you like.

This can be served on a salad, in a burrito, as a lettuce wrap, or with rice or quinoa.

For serving suggestions, and to see other related recipes, see my post on Homemade Chioptle-Style Buffet & Tortilla Salad (Lots of vegetarian options)

An Indian Holiday Feast

Hope everybody had a great Thanksgiving break. It’s the start of the season of over-indulgence! Thanksgiving weekend was filled with good food, drinks, family, friends, shopping, gossip & spending time with three precious little nieces. While we have the traditional meal with all the accompaniments each year, I’ve never really been a fan of turkey. I had seen recipes for (east)Indian spiced turkey several times, and had also been meaning to try roasting a cornish hen for several years. I decided to try to meld both together and improvised along the way. The results were a delicious & colorful meal that worked for our taste buds :). And it was easy enough to make for a weeknight meal.

Tandoori Cornish Hen

The menu included:

For dessert, we had warm and sweet Gulab Jamoons 🙂

[Scroll down for recipes of items that are not hyperlinked.]

Tandoori Cornish Hen

Masala Corn

  • 1 cup corn kernels (cooked and drained) – I buy frozen roasted corn kernels from Trader Joe’s
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1/2 tsp red chilli powder
  • 1 tsp chaat masala
  • salt to taste (use black salt / kala namak if available for a better flavor)
  • 1-2 tsp lemon juice
  • cilantro for garnish

Mix all ingredients well and serve. The measurements are just a guide – adjust as per your taste.

 Peas & Carrot Pulao

  • 1 cup basmati rice
  • 2 Tbsp oil
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 small onion – sliced
  • 1/2 tbsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp green chilli paste (or 1 green chilli – slit)
  • 1/4 cup peas
  • 1/4 cup diced carrots
  • 1/2 tsp salt to taste

1) Heat oil in a medium pan and add the cumin seeds. Allow it to sizzle and pop for a few seconds.

2) Add the onion, ginger and green chilli. Saute on medium-high till translucent, stirring often.

3) Add the carrots and salt, and saute for 2 minutes.

4) Add the peas and cook for another 2 minutes.

5) Add the rice and saute for 1-2 minutes till it changes color.

6) Add 1 1/2 cups (one and a half) water and bring to boil.

7) As soon as the water comes to boil, stir once, reduce heat to LOW, and cook covered for about 12-15 minutes. Do not open the lid during this time. At end of cook time, open lid and gently fluff the rice with a spoon or fork. Check for doneness. Keep covered till ready to serve.

Raita

This recipe was given to me by my friend Sandhya’s mom and it is my most favorite raita recipe.

  • 1/2 medium grated cucumber
  • 1 cup greek yogurt / strained yogurt
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 small dry red chilli
  • 2 Tbsp grated coconut
  • salt to taste

1) Wash, peel & grate the cucumber and drain for a few minutes.

2) In a small blender bowl, add half the yogurt, cumin, chilli & coconut and blend till smooth.

3) Mix all ingredients together and salt to taste.

NOTE: If you use regular yogurt, squeeze out the water from the cucumber before mixing in.

Oven Roasted Tandoori Cornish Hen

 

Tandoori Cornish Hen

After many years of wanting to make cornish hen, I finally mustered up the courage to experiment. I figured that with the accompaniments I planned to serve, we would at least have other things to eat if the meat didn’t turn out right. Let me just say that I should have made this a looooong time ago!! The chicken was moist, full of flavor, and falling off the bones. My 10 year old would have probably eaten a whole cornish hen if I let him :).

NOTE: Please take a few minutes to read the recipe before deciding if it’s easy or too complicated based on the number of steps below. I’ve laid out everything step-by-step, hence the long write up. In honesty, the whole process is pretty straight-forward and relatively easy. The only hard thing in my opinion is having to wait about 24 hours before eating.

Oven Roasted Tandoori Cornish Hen

(Serves 4)

  • 2 cornish hens – about 1 lb each (I buy the 4-packs from Costco)
  • 2-3 Tbsp oil / butter

FOR THE BRINE:

  • 32 oz buttermilk (about 4 cups)
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1 cinnamon stick (broken)
  • 8-10 whole cloves
  • 4 black cardamom pods (moti elaichi) / 6 green cardamom pod
  • 2-3 Tbsp salt (or more to taste)

1) Remove the plastic inserts from the cornish hens and wash inside & out thoroughly. Drain well.

2) Meanwhile, in a lidded container big enough to hold both birds, add all the brine ingredients and mix well. It should be on the saltier side, but don’t worry – the chicken will only absorb a little.

3) Gently immerse the hens into the brine, making sure that the brine fills the cavity and covers the whole bird. Cover the container and refrigerate overnight.

FOR THE MARINADE:

  • 1/2 packet tandoori masala of choice (I mixed in a bit of red food coloring, but this is optional)
  • 1 Tbsp ginger paste
  • 1Tbsp garlic paste
  • 1/2 cup yogurt
  • 1-2 Tbsp lemon / lime juice

4) Next morning, mix all the marinade ingredients in a small bowl. Taste and adjust salt & lemon juice as needed.

5) Remove the chicken from the brine and pick away any whole spices sticking to it. Set aside on a plate and discard the remaining brine.

6) Evenly spread the chicken with the tandoori marinade, making sure to get under the skin and in the cavity*** (see note at bottom of post). (Do not slather the marinade on in thick layers as it will be doughy and bitter when cooked. Spread generously but evenly.)

7) Return to empty brine container and refrigerate for at least 6 hours. You can flip the bird over once or twice while marinating (optional), and return to the refrigerator.

TO COOK THE CHICKEN:

  • 2-3 large red potatoes
  • 1 medium green pepper (capsicum)
  • 1-2 large red onion
  • 1-2 Tbsp oil
  • salt & pepper to taste

8) Remove chicken from the refrigerator and set at room temperature for about 30 minutes.

9) Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375*F.

10) Chop the red potatoes, peppers & onion into large chunks and toss with oil, salt & pepper.

11) Place in the bottom of a roasting pan sprayed lightly with oil (you can line the pan with foil for easy cleanup).

12) Use twine to gently tie the chicken legs at the ‘ankles’ :)). Poke a toothpick through each wing into the breast meat to keep the wing from spreading & getting burnt while cooking. [Google “how to truss a chicken” for more info]

13) Place the hens on the roasting rack**(see note at bottom of post). Brush/spray lightly with oil or butter, and cover lightly with foil.

14) Bake for about 35-40 minutes covered. Remove the foil, baste with some remaining marinade, turn the roasting rack around, and bake for another 15-20 minutes. Watch closely to ensure that the meat does not turn dry. Chicken is done when the juices start to run clear.

15) Remove from the oven and gently drape the foil on the chicken (DO NOT SEAL). Let it rest for about 10 minutes before serving.

Serve with mint chutney and/or raita. For other accompaniments, check out my Desi Holiday Feast post.

Tandoori Cornish Hen

NOTE: I don’t like poking holes in the chicken before marinating as I feel it lets the juices run out and dry the meat while cooking. You can do it if you prefer, but the cook times may need to be adjusted.

If you do not have a roasting rack to cook the cornish hen, you can crumple up aluminum foil or layer on root vegetables on the bottom of the tray to keep it away from the juices.

Cupcakes with Candy Leaves

Cupcakes with Candy Leaves

Last weekend, I attended a Cast Party for a dance I did at our local Indian association event. While the piece itself was small, it was so much fun going to practices, picking out outfits, and dressing up for the ‘big show’. The entire segment involved almost 70 people – men, women & kids. A lot of kids!!

Cupcakes with Candy Leaves

For many years, I had planned on making candy-melt Monarch butterflies that I had seen in a cake decorating book, but never got around to it. I figured it might be a good technique to use for fall cupcake decorations. Considering that there would be dozens of kids at the party, my reasoning was that no matter how the end result would be, the kids would devour them. I was pleasantly surprised at how quickly these decorations came together. I made the candy leaves one afternoon, and baked and decorated the cupcakes the day of the event. It’s easy enough that the kids can help – my 10 year old did. Suffice to say that the first of three boxes of cupcakes was emptied out even before dinner was served!

Cupcakes with Candy Leaves

ITEMS NEEDED:

  • Candy Melts in colors of choice
  • Design printed on paper
  • Wax paper for piping candy
  • Cookie Sheets
  • Piping bag with fine tip [OR] sturdy ziplock bags
  • Toothpick (to fill in small spots)
  • Metal spatula [OR] wide knife to lift the candy leaves

STEPS:

1) Make copies or free-hand sketch the design you want onto white paper.

2) Place on a flat, moveable surface (like a cookie sheet or sturdy chopping board) and top with wax paper. Once in position, tape down into place.

3) In a small bowl, microwave a handful of Candy Melts according to package directions till completely melted and runny.

4) Pour into the piping bag / ziplock bag (make a tiny snip at the corner for the candy to flow) and using a slow and steady hand, pipe over the designs.

5) Allow to harden – about 10 minutes.

Cupcakes with Candy Leaves

As you can see in the picture above, I used a piping bag. The tray on top has the full outline piped in. The one on the bottom has only the ‘veins’ piped in. You will see below how these give two different effects.

Cupcakes with Candy Leaves

Cupcakes with Candy Leaves

6) In another small bowl, melt a handful of leaf color candy melt chips and pour into another bag. Pipe over the leaf designs and make sure to fill in the entire design. Go over the back of the ‘veins’ and make sure that all areas are covered.

(While you do not want clumps of candy, don’t worry about being super neat. In the finished stage, this will be the bottom of the leaf and will not show. Of course, if you plan on making the leaves stand up where both front and back will be visible, then take the time to smooth out the candy. Work in small batches to keep it flowing easily.)

7) Set the finished cookie trays aside to harden – about 30 minutes (depending on how thick you spread the candy). Alternately, stick them in the fridge or freezer for about 10 minutes to harden up faster.

8) When set, gently slip a spatula under the candy leaf – it should slide right out – and place on top of your completely cooled and frosted cake.

Cupcakes with Candy LeavesCupcakes with Candy Leaves

INSTRUCTIONS FOR THE HERSHEY’S KISSES ACORNS:

Cupcakes with Candy Leaves

ITEMS NEEDED:

  • Nutter Butter Bites (Peanut Butter Sandwich Mini Cookies)
  • Double number of Hershey’s Kisses (unwrapped)
  • Mini chocolate chips
  • Few Candy Melts to use like glue

Cupcakes with Candy Leaves

1) Split the mini cookies and remove the filling (above). Lay them all in a plate, right side down. (Alternately, you can just use the cookies whole without splitting them up.)

Cupcakes with Candy Leaves

2) Melt a few Candy Melts and pour into bag for piping (or use the leftover bag from the candy leaves). Place a small dot on a few cookies.

Cupcakes with Candy Leaves

3) Quickly place the Kisses on top of the cookie and press down gently. Work in small batches, and make sure the candy melts do not ooze out from under the Kisses. Do not disturb them for about 10-15 minutes, till firm.

Cupcakes with Candy Leaves

4) Now flip the cookies right side up and dab with another small dot of candy melt. Quickly top with a mini chocolate chip and press down gently. Set on plate to harden completely – another 10-15 minutes. (The chips might slide away from the center if the candy melt is too runny. Make sure to move it back to place as it cools.)

Cupcakes with Candy Leaves

I used box cake mix & frosting – Yellow cake (my favorite!), Devil’s Food, Caramel Apple Frosting, Cinnamon Bun frosting, and plain chocolate frosting. I made a total of 4 boxes, and about 75 cupcakes.

Baked Tortilla Bowls

Baked Tortilla Bowls

I made these Baked Tortilla Bowls for my Homemade Chipotle-style Buffet & Tortilla Salad (Lots of Vegetarian Options) dinner party. Topped (filled?) with cilantro-lime rice, black/pinto beans, tofu sofritos/taco chicken, corn with peppers, tomato salsa, red onions, cheese, sour cream, cheese and cilantro, it was a delicious meal. Guests were able to serve themselves and customize to suit their tastes. Once the table was set, it required very little oversight. Plus, it turned out to be a relatively inexpensive menu. Many of the items can be made ahead of time and heated just before serving.

Taco Salad Bowl

Making these tortilla bowls were a breeze with the Tortilla Bowl Pans which you can buy online or at the drug store for around $10/set of 4. Use 8-inch or 10-inch tortillas in the flavor of your choice. I used Original (plain) and Jalapeno tortillas. Make sure the tortillas are at room temperature, and soft and pliable before molding into the pan. If they were refrigirated, wrap in a damp paper towel and microwave for 15-20 seconds till just soft. Then, press gently and shape into the ungreased, non-stick tortilla bowl pans and bake in a preheated oven till crispy.

 If you do not want to buy the pan set ( I strongly urge you to spring for it if you are making these for a large crowd), you can use these two methods linked below:

-Make tortilla bowls with shaped foil, no Pan

-Make tortilla bowls with an upside-down muffin pan.

I have tried baking at 375* for 12-14 minutes, and 400* for 8-10 minutes. Different brands of tortillas seem to have different baking times and temperatures to crisp up nicely. Watch the first few carefully, making sure they do not burn. Then, you can follow the same time for the rest of your batch.

Once baked, remove from oven and allow to cool for a few minutes in the pan. Remove to a cooling rack and cool completely. Store in an air-tight container for about 2 days. Before serving, the bowls can be warmed up in a 350* oven for a few minutes to recrisp.

For recipes for the salad filling and toppings, click here.