Pizza Pakistania: A green and white authentic Italian delight!

Published: January 21, 2013
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My children like to call this green and white delight "Pizza Pakistania". PHOTO: DR ILMANA FASIH

Pizza is Italian and everyone knows it. However, as remarked by a cousin from Italy, what Pizza Hut and other pizza places make are delicious food – not pizzas. A typical Italian pizza has an extremely thin crust and a crispy base.

Interestingly, when you ask some friends who bake pizzas at home, they share stories of how they add many ingredients into the base including eggs, powdered milk, baking powder, baking soda and butter. Yet, many of them fail to deliver the necessary sponge or the crisp in the base you find in parlour-bought pizzas.

However, the recipe that a cousin shared from Italy was surprisingly simple and fool-proof. Never ever has my pizza base, after following her instructions, failed to rise!

The ingredients are simple enough; it is the method of making the dough that makes the real difference.

My children are very fond of homemade pizza. As it comes steaming hot from the oven with its appetising aroma, the kids take an active part in custom designing the toppings. Having tried almost all the renowned and strange combinations, they are now fond of green and white topping. Since it is reminiscent of the green and white colours of the Pakistani flag, they call this (originally a Greek recipe) ‘Pizza Pakistania’.

So, see below the recipe for our very own Pizza Pakistania from scratch:

Ingredients:

For the pizza base/bread:

Flour: 3 cups
Yeast: 1 tablespoon
Sugar: 1 teaspoon
Salt: a pinch, or to taste
Olive oil: half a cup
Lukewarm water: 2 cups initially, then as required to make the dough

For the pesto sauce:

Fresh basil leaves: I cup
Pine nuts (chilghozas): half a cup
Olive oil: half a cup
Garlic: 4 cloves
Salt to taste.

Topping:

Baby spinach leaves: 2 cups
Fresh basil leaves: 15 leaves cut in thin strips.
Feta cheese: 1 cup, crumbed
Mozzarella cheese: I cup grated
Olives: pitted, half cup, thinly sliced.

Method:

To make the dough, first mix the yeast and sugar together.

Add this to the lukewarm water and half cup flour and leave for 15-30 minutes till it is frothy.

Gradually add the rest of the flour, salt and olive oil, with the water to make medium soft dough. Leave it covered in a warm place and let it rise for half an hour.

Once raised, knead the dough a few times. Roll it into a circle that fits the size of the tray. The well-leavened dough is very elastic, and will recoil, hence will require extra effort to roll.

Place the rolled dough on the pizza tray. I use one with holes at the base, to make the dough crispy from the bottom.

How to make pesto sauce:

Grind all the ingredients in a chopper, or in a mortar and pestle coarsely. Spread the paste over the pizza base placed on the tray. Leave it again for 10 minutes to rise.

Add the toppings with leaves first, then the cheese, and finally sprinkle the sliced olives.

Bake in the oven at 225°C for 15-20 minutes till the crust and the cheese are golden brown.

Serve it hot with fresh salad.

Pizza Pakistania is simple to make and has loads of green, healthy stuff on it; it is definitely a pleasant change from the taste of the usual pizzas.

Fresh out of oven, with its appetising aroma and flawless sponge and crispy base, it takes not more than 10 minutes for the pizza to vanish from the dining table!

Enjoy!

PHOTOS: DR ILMANA FASIH

This post originally appeared here.

Read more by Ilmana here or follow her on Twitter @Zeemana 

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Dr Ilmana Fasih

An Indian gynaecologist, married to a Pakistani, Ilmana is a health activist, and m-Health entrepreneur, who writes on social and health issues as a passion. She dreams of a world without borders and wars.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.