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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Cocktail Papadums & Carrot Salad

Cocktail Papadums & Carrot Salad

As promised – here is the next easy appetizer idea. Most Indians will be familiar with some version of this carrot salad. You can add in seeded & finely chopped tomatoes, or sprouted mung beans. I have just added a small twist to how it’s served. Cocktail Papadums (mini papads) are available at most Indian grocery stores. If not, you can use tortilla chips / scoops.

These papads and the salad can be made ahead of time and assembled just before serving. Hope this helps make your entertaining easier :)).

Cocktail Papadums & Carrot Salad

Cocktail Papadums & Carrot Salad

(serves 4-6)

  • 1/2 packet cocktail papadums (fried and drained)
  • 2 large carrots (peeled & grated)
  • 1 small red onion (finely chopped)
  • 1-2 green chillies (finely chopped)
  • 2-3 Tbsp cilantro (finely chopped)
  • salt to taste
  • lemon juice to taste
  • 1 medium tomato (seeded & finely diced) – optional
  • 1/2 cup sprouted mung beans – optional

This recipe is more a guide than an actual measurement:

1) Fry cocktail papadums and drain on paper towels. Store in a paper towel lined air tight container for up to 2 days. (If you cannot find mini papadums/papads,  I suppose you could get away with tortilla chips/scoops.)

2) In a bowl, mix together the grated carrots, onion, green chillies and mung beans (if using). Refrigerate till ready to serve.

3) Just before serving, add the salt, lemon juice & tomato and gently mix with a fork. (Remember that tomatoes will release moisture and make the carrot mix soggy after a while. I generally avoid it if I expect the mix to sit for a while.)

4) Serve in a bowl on a plate with the papads. Guests can fix their own bite size snack.

Cocktail Papadums

Growing up, this was something we occasionally had as Sunday breakfast to give my mom a break from cooking. We slathered our bread with ghee and toasted it on the griddle till it was golden and crunchy, and topped it with this spicy carrot salad. I still enjoy this salad, but without the bread!

Guilt free Chia Seed – Pumpkin Pie Filling

Guilt Free Chia Seed - Pumpkin Pie Filling

Halloween seems to herald in the start of unhealthy eating. By the time we’re done sneaking our favorites from the kids candy stash, Thanksgiving comes around, and the holiday parties begin. If you like pie like I do, then this season is like walking in a land mine! I stumbled upon this recipe on Pinterest from Forks Over Knives and LOVE it. Surprisingly, my 10-year old has been enjoying it too as much as I do. You can have it for breakfast, snack or any time you get a craving for something sweet. Made with whole foods, and put together in minutes – what’s not to love about this Pumpkin Pie Filling?

Guilt Free Chia Seed - Pumpkin Pie Filling

Guilt Free Chia Seed – Pumpkin Pie Filling

(Serves 4-6)

(Adapted from Forks Over Knives)

  • 1/4 cup almonds
  • 1 cup water
  • 12-15 pitted dates
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 1 (15 oz) can pumpkin (NOT pie filling)
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla
  • 1 Tbsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/3 cup chia seeds***
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon

1) Add the chia seeds to your blender and make it into a powder. Pour into a large bowl and set aside.

2) Add the almonds, water & dates to the blender jar and puree. (Alternately, use 1 cup of almond milk & dates).

3) Add the banana, pumpkin, vanilla & spice, and blend well.

4) If your blender is powerful, add in the chia and give it a whirl till well mixed. Add a few more tablespoons of milk or water if necessary. Otherwise, pour the liquid from the blender over the chia powder and mix well.

5) Pour into 4-6 serving dishes and chill covered for a few hours (it’s fine to eat right away too). Sprinkle with cinnamon before serving.

6) My teen loves his pie crust, so I poured some into individual ready crusts for portion control.

*** If you prefer the texture of whole chia seeds, skip step 1 and mix with the pumpkin filling. This method requires several hours to set – it will not be ready to eat as soon as it is assembled.

Cashew Nut Pakodas

Cashew Nut Pakodas

Here’s a slight twist on a classic Indian appetizer. Usually, pakodas (also called pakoras) are spiced chickpea-batter dipped pieces of vegetables or meat; a denser version of tempura. This recipe is an attempt to recreate one of the items sold at the sweets store in Bangalore that my mom frequents. Unlike the traditional pakodas,  these stay crisp for a few days in an air tight container and can be made a day or two ahead of your party.

Cashew Nut Pakoda

Cashew Nut Pakodas

(Serves 4-5)

  • 2 cups cashew nuts – roasted
  • 1 cup besan (chickpea/gram flour)
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp rice flour
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder (cayenne)
  • 1 large onion – chopped fine
  • 2 green chillies – chopped fine
  • 1 sprig curry leaves – chopped fine
  • Salt to taste (about 1 tsp)
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric (optional)
  • 3 Tbsp ghee / Crisco** – (optional) – melted & warm
  • Oil for frying

1) In a medium bowl, mix all the above ingredients (EXCEPT cashews and ghee) with your hands, pressing on the onions with your fingers. The dough will be sticky and dry, but that’s okay. Let it sit for about 10 minutes.

2) Meanwhile, if using unroasted cashews, use a heavy bottom wide pan, and dry roast the nuts on a medium flame, stirring frequently. This should take about 5-7 minutes. The nuts should be lightly roasted – a bite test will show that they are just beginning to get a snap to them.  Remember that will be get crispier as they cool.

3) Alternately, preheat the oven to 350* F and roast the nuts on a large tray for about 7-10 minutes, stirring them every few minutes. Allow the nuts to cool completely. If you are using roasted cashews, skip steps 2/3 and move directly to step 4.

4) When the nuts are completely cooled, remix the batter with your hands. The onions would have released moisture and made the batter softer and easier to handle. Add the nuts and ghee** and mix well. If you must, sprinkle a few drops of water as necessary and mix. DO NOT ADD EXTRA MOISTURE AS THIS WILL MAKE THE PAKODAS & NUTS SOGGY.

4) Heat oil in a pan on medium, and drop little clumps of the cashew nut batter. Fry, stirring occasionally, till it is golden. Remove to a plate lined with paper towels to drain oil completely. Serve warm or cool completely and store in an air tight container for a couple of days.

5) To reheat, spread on a cookie sheet and warm in a 325*F oven for a few minutes.

** NOTE: Adding  melted ghee or Crisco is said to make the fried food crispier. You may omit it if you don’t want to use it.

Easiest Baked Chicken Meatballs

Easiest Baked Chicken Meatballs

This is seriously one of the easiest appetizer to have on hand. The first time I attempted it was on a whim; I had all the ingredients out and thought of experimenting. It was definitely a hit! I make a batch of uncooked meatballs and freeze them for quick snacks or for entertaining. The Costco bag of organic skinless boneless chicken thighs work well as I find it more flavorful and moist than chicken breast, but you could use either.

The best way to mince the chicken at home is to cut it into medium cubes and freeze for about 15-20 minutes ONLY till well chilled. Then, fill food processor half-way and pulse till you get a fine mince.

Easy Baked Chicken Meatballs 

(About 50 1-inch meatballs)

  • 1 lb skinless boneless chicken thighs (dry thoroughly if washed)
  • 1 medium onion – peeled & quartered
  • 1 inch ginger – peeled & rough chopped
  • 2 big garlic cloves – peeled
  • 1/2 cup cilantro – washed & drained well
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves – washed & drained well
  • 4-6 green chillies
  • salt to taste **
  • cookie tray
  • wax paper

1) Mince the chicken according to instructions above. Set aside in a large bowl.

2) In the same food processor bowl, add the rest of the ingredients and pulse the food processor till everything is chopped fine. Make sure not to over process as the onions will start to release moisture. You may have to scrape down the sides a few times.

3) Add the onion mixture and salt to the chicken and mix well.

4) Line a large cookie tray with wax / parchment paper

5) Shape into 1-inch balls and lay on the cookie tray, making sure they do not touch. Freeze for 2 hours.

6) Remove the meatballs from the tray into a freezer ziplock and store back in the freezer. (Freezing on a cookie sheet first ensures that the meatballs do not clump together in the freezer.)

7) To cook frozen meatballs, preheat oven to 350* F and bake on a greased pan for 15-18 mins. If cooking thawed, reduce cooking time to 12-15 minutes.

** To check if I have added enough salt, I cook  about a teaspoon of the mix in the microwave and taste before forming all into balls.

Microwave Doodh Peda

Here is an easy and tasty recipe for Krishna Janmashtami – the festival celebrating the birth of Lord Krishna. Considering he was such a lover of milk & butter, it is customary to make sweets rich in dairy. My mother-in-law used to make odd-number (3 or 5 types each) variety of sweet and savory dishes the morning of the festival; no rice served the whole day. Dinner was a plate full of snacks, and the kids loved it.

The recipe for Microwave Doodh Peda & Microwave Besan Ladoo was given to me by my aunt  years ago, and I have made it many times. It is fail-proof, quick, and really tasty.

Microwave Doodh Peda

(30-35 pieces)

  • 3/4 stick butter – 6 Tbsp (melted)
  • 1 (15oz) can condensed milk – about 1 3/4 cup
  • 2 cups milk powder – (the better the quality of powder, the tastier the pedas)
  • 1/4 tsp cardamom powder
  • pinch saffron (optional)

1) Mix the melted butter, condensed milk & milk powder well in a glass microwavable bowl.

2) Microwave for 2 minutes. Mixture will rise in container when heated. Remove from microwave and stir well.

3) Microwave for another 2 minutes.

4) Remove from microwave and stir in the cardamom powder and saffron strands. Stir mixture well again and let it cool slightly so it is easy to handle.

5) While mixture is still warm, grease palms lightly with ghee. Roll about 1 Tbsp mixture into balls, flattening slightly on top and bottom. Arrange on a wax paper lined tray to cool completely.

6) Store in an air-tight container at room temperature for a day or two. For longer storage, refrigerate.

NOTE: For a pretty presentation, you may press down nuts (sliced or chopped) on top of the peda before it cools. Another option is to leave out the saffron while cooking, and press a strand or two after rolling into balls. I have used a simple stamp (cleaned well, of course) to press a design on the top of the pedas too.