Amazing how the slightest mention of certain things can spark off so many memories.
“A grey day! Ah well! After all, it’s November and it’s England!”, was exactly what I said, a couple of days ago, to which a reply came “Oh dear…then u must miss the Indian winter” , And I immediately replied “ I do, I do! Basking in the cool rays of the winter sun, oh yes, I do miss that”.
That little chit chat sparked so many memories in my heart and brought back all those gorgeous wintery days back in Assam, especially as a kid. Is that just me, or do you find childhood memories extra special too?
Sundays in our household were special days. It was the only day of the week when all five of us could sit down together for our lunch. Yes, deuta ( father), like everyone else, had to go to work on Saturdays, and we, children, had to go to school for half the day. So, Sundays were special. It was also a day of chores. Inspite of having house help, ma made sure that we pitched in to help in whatever way we can. And yes, she was quite firm about this, I must say. So, after each one of us had tidied up our rooms, and on the whole, the house looked spic and span, it would be time for breakfast. And yes, Sundays were not Sundays if there was not roti and ghugni ( a curry with potatoes and dried/fresh peas) for breakfast. It still amazes me no end as to how I could devour such a big breakfast and still be hungry in a couple of hours, ready for lunch! And mind you, inspite of all this eating, I was stick thin! I wish it was the same now!!
A little more than a couple of hours later, lunch would be ready. And on a wintry Sunday, a spicy chicken curry would rule the table- murgi mangso- bhat ( chicken curry with rice) the hotter the better; at least for the rest of the family. Me? Nah! I am not a very big fan of too much heat in curries and would sweat in no time. It was actually quite a joke in our household. And ironically, if I ever cooked a curry, it would always be very hot!! ” Today, someone is not going to complain” my brother would say with a grin, as I tried to hide the anguish with glassfuls of water.
This heavy lunch would culminate outdoors in the back garden, perched on the old, but oh! so comfortable, cane chairs, with a number of , guess what- oranges- passed around! Yes, oranges were a plenty during winter and it was as if every household had to have them in abundance.It was quite common to have an orange after lunch; it still is? Especially during winter, while basking in the sun.
How I remember those days! The soft warmth from the rays of the winter sun, shining down on us, enveloping us , when we discard our woollens for a while and take in the sun. Sometimes, it would be the whole family, sometimes a few of us, but there would always be someone out in the back garden, on wintry Sundays , after lunch- talking about everything under the sun, reading, enjoying an orange, and sometimes, snoozing; after all,what do you expect after such a heavy meal!
Today’s recipe is nothing like my ma’s Sunday chicken curry, nor are there any oranges to pass around, but it was something we all enjoyed and yes, it delivered the heat and the colour to perk us up on a cold and grey evening. Spicy chorizo sausages were tossed in olive oil with mushrooms, an assortment of other vegetables and a sprinkling of fresh rosemary, to go on some individual sized whole wheat pizza bases. These were then topped with some goats cheese and a sprinkling of freshly ground pepper, and in case of Dinesh, some crushed red chillies as well. I did not make any sauce to spread over the base.
For the base-
3 and 1/2 C of whole wheat flour (atta) + more for kneading
2 tsp of fast action dried yeast
1 tsp sugar
1/3 C + 1C warm water
For the topping-
To be chopped into small pieces-
1 red pepper
1 medium sized onion
1/2 green pepper
4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
4-5 close capped mushrooms, sliced
200 gms of chorizo, skin peeled and thinly sliced
2 tblsp of olive oil
2 sprigs of rosemary, finely chopped (discard the woody stalk)
150 gms of goats cheese
a little cornmeall to dust the baking pans
- In a small bowl, mix together the yeast, sugar and 1/3 c of warm water. Leave aside for 10-15 minutes or till frothy and doubled in volume.
- In a larger bowl, mix together the flour and salt. Tip in the yeast mixture along with the 1C of warm water. Bring everything together. the dough will be quite sticky at this stage. Add a little more flour about a tblsp and knead for about 10 minutes or till the dough is soft and smooth ball. You can add more flour to the dough while kneading, if it is too sticky, but be careful not to add too much.
- Oil a bowl and place the ball of dough in it, rolling it around to coat in the oil. Cover the bowl with a plastic wrap and leave to rise in a warm place ( about 1-1 and 1/2 hours).
- Meanwhile, make the topping.
- Heat the 2tblsp of olive oil and add the slices of chorizo. Cook over low heat for a bout 2-3 minutes or till the spices and oil from the sausages ooze out. Add all the rest of the ingredients, except the cheese and cook till the onions and mushrooms soften. Keep aside and cool completely.
Assembly and baking-
- Pre heat the oven at 220 deg C and dust a baking tray with a little cornmeal
- Knock down the dough with your knuckles and knead for another 4-5 minutes. Shape int a log and cut into five equal portions. Work with one portion at a time and keep the rest covered to prevent drying out.
- Shape the portion into a ball and roll out to a disc of about 7 inches. Transfer the disc to the tray and gently press out with the fingers a little more. Prick all over gently with a fork ( to prevent the base from puffing up)
- Place a portion of the topping in the centre and flute the edges.
- Place the tray at the top of the pre heated oven and bake for about 15 minutes or till the cheese melts and the edges brown lightly.portions of dough. If making one by one ( I made two at a time), keep the baked ones on a rack to prevent sweating and making the crust soggy.
- Serve straightaway and enjoy!!
- The chorizo,which I have used here, is a spicy sausage which releases the spices and oils in it, when cooked. I cooked the rest of the ingredients for the topping in this oil.If you do not like or do not have access to chorizo, you could try the following- add about 3 tbslp of oil and add some smoked paprika and a little chilli powder( not necessary, but add if you want it hot) to it. Cook the mushrooms and the vegetables in this oil.
- As Chorizo is quite salty, I did not add any extra salt. If you are not using Chorizo, season the topping with salt after cooking them.
Served fresh out of the oven, these pretty pizzas were wonderful to sink the teeth into. They looked very appetizing with all those natural colours from the vegetables; studded with jewels? What do you say?
And I must say that I was sniffing a little from the heat. But, Dinesh, Rengoni and Agastya ate without batting an eyelid.