Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Chickpea Flour (Besan) Based Pizza | A Sinless Alternative

I don't think I'm ever going to brave enough to fly pizza dough in the air like the pros do it. I haven't been a big fan of the traditional pizzas bases anyway - they're filled with carbohydrates and provide basically no nutrition.

Yes, I know - pizza isn't the healthiest thing in the world and to try and find nutrition in pizza is like trying to extract blood from a stone. Solution? Use healthy toppings and find a healthier base. That starts with finding a healthier flour, and I we need not look past Besan (Chickpea/Garbanzo Flour). It's protein rich, lowers cholesterol, and is also abundant in folate, iron, magnesium and phosphorus. It's a highly versatile flour too - it cooks super fast, and is used widely to make parathas, bondas, dosas, cutlets, pakoras, and now, pizza!

Once you have a healthier base, you don't feel half as bad scoffing down a few slices. It's delicious - a healthy base, some fresh veggies and seasoning, and a decent amount of good cheese. I'm sorry - if you're going to try and make pizza and cheap out on the cheese, you may as well not eat Pizza at all! Go and eat a salad sandwich instead. :P

It started with a lazy weeknight, uninterested with the usual upma, stir fry, or roti and subzi. I once saw a recipe that used a dough made of wheat and quinoa as a base for pizza, but since I had not the energy nor the time to venture into something like that, I went for this alternative. It's damn good. It tastes even better than Gourmet pizza. Better yet, it takes hardly 20 minutes to plate up.

My only regret with this pizza is that I didn't have stock of my two favourite ingredients - haloumi cheese and jalapenos. This pizza would have been the ultimate had I added these!

Chickpea Flour / Besan Based Pizza 

Total Time Required: 20 minutes
Yield: 2 pizzas

For Base:
2 cups Chickpea/Garbanzo/Besan flour (aka Kadala Maavu)
1 tablespoon tomato puree
1/2 teaspoon chilli powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons of oil (1 tablespoon per pizza)

For Toppings:
(Keep it simple; don't overload the flavours)
2 cups Grated Mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup Grated Parmesan cheese (parmigiano reggiano)
Dried Oregano flakes (1 teaspoon per pizza)
Chilli flakes (sprinkle as much as you want on top whilst cooking)
2 large Capsicums, sliced
1 cup julienned mushrooms
2 onions, finely sliced
1 cup sliced olives
A pinch of salt per pizza
Add further toppings according to your taste, such as baby spinach, pineapple, haloumi cheese, jalapenos, sun-dried tomatoes, paneer etc)


Mix the besan flour, salt, chilli powder together in a bowl. Add 1 cup of water first and mix well till it forms a sticky thick dough. Then proceed to add water little by little till you form a batter that is semi-thick (pancake/dosa batter consistency).
Keep cut vegetables aside, ready to be used.

Heat a non-stick pan/griddle and when hot, pour in two ladles of the batter, and spread out slightly using the ladle in concentric circles. The pancake should not be spread out too much, otherwise the base will be too thin - hence why we're using 2 ladles of the batter.

Once you've put it on the pan, IMMEDIATELY REDUCE THE HEAT. You don't want the base cooking too much and going brown. You need to grill this next.

Immediately, drizzle the 1 tablespoon of oil around the base. Ensure it is on the lowest flame.

Sprinkle 1 cup of cheese and cover the whole surface area. Sprinkle the oregano on top. Now pile on the vegies, decoratively of course! Lastly, sprinkle only a tiny pinch of salt and liberally compliment with chilli flakes, topped with Parmesan cheese.

Cover the lid on the pan, and allow to cook on the low flame for 5 minutes.

Turn your grill as soon as you've closed the lid, and allow the grill to heat up in this 5 minutes.

Open up the pan, and transfer it (open) to the grill. Allow to cook in the grill for at least 5 minutes.

Once the cheese on top becomes slightly brown, and the pizza is aromatic, it's ready.

Plate it up and serve immediately. Don't make your taste buds wait for something this good!

Alas, a successful experiment! We enjoyed this delicious, quick and healthy home-made pizza watching an old favourite film, Nayagan. If you haven't heard the song Nee Oru Kadhal Sangeetham, you have no idea what you've been missing out on! This song alone defines my love for music, and I could listen to this song for the rest of my life. I don't even know what else to say about this song - it is the personification of everything beautiful in life -

Nee Oru Kaathal Sangeetham
Vaai Mozhi Sonnaal Deiveegam
You are a love melody. If said out loud, you’re divine.]

Vaanambaadi Paravaigal Rendu Oorvalam Engo Poagirathu
Kaathal Kaathal Enumoru Geetham Paadidum Oasai Kaetkirathu
Isai Mazhai Engum...
 Isai Mazhai Engum Pozhigirathu 
Engalin Jeevan Nanaigirathu
Kadalalai Yaavum Isai Magal Meettum 
Azhagiya Veenai Surasthaanam
Iravum Pagalum Rasithiruppoam
[Two songbirds are going on a procession somewhere  
A song about love can be heard being sung
A rain of music everywhere...
A rain of music is pouring everywhere and our souls are getting wet
All the waves will lift the daughter of music, the beautiful veena music
We will keep enjoying (the music) day and night]