I can almost see this dish being featured on the Indian version of the CopyKat recipes website – the community that posts popular recipes from key chain restaurants in the US- even if I say so myself:).
This particular recipe has been inspired from a food court style restaurant called Eatopia at India Habitat center in New Delhi. We recently returned from a whirlwind but memorable trip to Rajasthan, Agra and Delhi (in that order) with the family. Besides the breathtaking locales and the cherished monument sightings, this was also meant to be a food sighting and savoring trip – a gastronomic experience of sorts. While we couldn’t savor all that north India had to offer in 7 days with a tight schedule and a few Delhi bellies:) we did manage to cram in some key food experiences which I will save for a separate post.
Eatopia was our last food stop in Delhi. Decent food at affordable prices and a good sampling of cuisines to choose from – Nepali, Indo Chinese, Pizza, street food/chat, Punjabi Dhaba and so on. Good one to visit if you have limited time and want to try/taste all that Delhi restaurants would have to offer, well almost:).
This particular entree stood out for me for its flavor and uniqueness. An Indian inspired pizza or rather Naan smothered with tikka masala with chunks of paneer and cheese topping. The tikka masala flavor was so flavorful and distinct (and a great alternative to the usual tomato basil pizza sauce) that it left me wanting to lick the masala off the pizza along with my fingers. Of course I didn’t get to a second piece of that pizza thanks to our ravenous tween/teenagers with us (my son and nephew) who polished it off before we could say “please”:).
So is it a naan, is it a pizza, a Nizza? Naanza was the original name so Naanza it is. Perfect name for a naan pizza. A Paneer Tikka Masala Naanza.
So last weekend, as we were toying with dinner ideas, (keep in mind weekend dish requests are complicated at our home – Girish would rather eat Indian what with all the travelling over the week and noshing on greasy restaurant food, and Nikhil’s usually craving something in between an enchilada, burrito or a pizza) we very amicably settled on the Naanza, a pizza with an Indian twist.:)
Ingredients: (serves 5)
For the tikka masala paste: (Sanjeev Kapoor recipe adapted from the blog Indian Healthy Recipes)
¼ tsp cumin seeds (jeera)
1-2 bay leaves
½ tsp black peppercorns
1 cinnamon stick
2-3 green or black cardamom (black cardamom has a better flavor)
¾ cup of finely chopped onions (about 1 medium sized red onion)
2-3 green chilies slit or crushed
½ can tomato paste (original recipe called for fresh tomatoes pureed which is fine too)
1 tsp ginger garlic paste
1-2 tsp olive oil
1-2 tsp red chili powder (depending on your spice tolerance:))
1 tsp garam masala powder (available at Indian food stores or homemade)
1 tsp kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves, available at Indian food stores)
¼ cup cashew paste (soak ¼ cup raw cashews in about ½ cup water for 30 mins to an hour. Blend to a smooth paste.)
½ cup cilantro chopped
1 ½ cups Paneer (Indian cottage cheese store bought or home made) – sliced into ½ to 1 inch cubes
Tandoori Naans (store bought or home made). You may use frozen store bought naans as well. – 5
2 cups grated mozzarella cheese
For tikka masala paste:
- Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed pan or kadai.
- Add the cumin first and when it starts to sizzle, add the bay leaf, cloves, cinnamon and peppercorns. Saute for about 2 minutes till they start to lightly brown.
- Add the chopped onions, and green chilies. Fry till the onions turn golden brown.
- Add the ginger garlic paste and sauté for another minute.
- Add the tomato paste, red chili powder and cook for another 3-5 minutes.
- Pour about ¼ cup water, add the kasuri methi, garam masala powder and fry again for 3-5 minutes.
- Add the cashew paste and mix well. Continue to cook till the mixture starts to boil.
- Cook till the gravy becomes thick and almost paste like. Ensure that the mixture is not too watery as it will not stick well to the naan base. For this do make sure you add water to just the right consistency in Step 6, and adjust water quantity as needed.
- You may now add half of the paneer pieces to this paste and set it aside until you assemble the naan. This allows the paneer to soak in the tikka masala “juices”.
You may also try this recipe for paneer no butter masala I posted earlier. I wanted to try this Sanjeev Kapoor version for kicks (and licks:) and also since this was supposedly the original “tikka” recipe, but I’m sure either would work.
For the Naanza:
- Preheat oven to 375-400F. (190-200C)
- Lightly grease and flour a pizza tray. Alternatively if you have a pizza stone, heat the stone at the required temperature for about 10 minutes.
- Using a blunt knife, spread the tikka paste on one naan base till it is completely covered.
- Now add some of the paneer pieces that are soaking in the masala paste on top. You may also add some of the fresh un-soaked paneer pieces as a topping at this stage. This gives the naanza a good balance of the gravy and paneer.
- Top this with some grated cheese ( 1-2 tbsp) and chopped cilantro. For those who like it spicy, add some crushed green chili as well.
- Place the naanza on the pizza stone or baking tray and bake in the oven for about 10-15 minutes until the cheese has melted and the base is lightly browned. Since the naan is already cooked, you may not need to wait very long for the base to cook.
Verdict : This recipe came very close to the Eatopia version. Finger licking good and extra credits for the amazing aroma in the kitchen from the tikka masala baking in the oven:). I’m still experimenting with the right pizza cheese to use in Singapore so that’s the only thing I would change since I used an Indian mozzarella cheese. I also tried this with grated Amul cheese which didn’t give it the right consistency either, so I would probably use regular American grated mozzarella cheese the next time for that gooey pizza consistency.