Indian-style naan pizza
Tomatoes, garlic, onions, bread, spinach and cheese are all classic Mediterranean ingredients, right? But did you know that these foods are commonly used in Indian cooking as well?
Tomatoes, garlic, onions and spinach are often used in curries, dhals and vegetable side dishes; breads such as naan bread are a common accompaniment to a meal; and cheese — usually a soft fresh cheese called paneer — also makes a regular appearance in traditional Indian dishes. So the idea of making an Indian ‘pizza’ using these kind of ingredients seemed like a good idea to us. And we certainly weren’t disappointed with the end result!
Naan bread (a scrumptious type of flat bread traditionally cooked in a tandoor, or clay oven) actually makes a wonderful pizza crust. And in India, naan bread is sometimes stuffed with paneer cheese before baking — so we knew that cottage cheese (which is almost identical to unpressed paneer cheese) would be the perfect cheese to use for our Indian pizza. But I think what surprised us most is how similar the texture of cottage cheese is to melted fresh mozzarella cheese.
As you can see from the photo above, before we put the naan pizzas in the oven we simply dolloped some cottage cheese over the top. After baking, the cottage cheese had melted over the pizza and become stretchy, and even pulled away in gooey strands while we were eating it, just like mozzarella does.
Naan bread works best with this pizza, but if you can’t get your hands on any, pita bread makes a reasonable substitute. Also, instead of shrimp you can use diced chicken, scallops, chickpeas or even good quality canned tuna or salmon. And of course paneer cheese (cut into small cubes) can be used instead of the cottage cheese.
2 tablespoons peanut or canola oil
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
½ teaspoon salt
1 garlic clove — minced
4 naan breads
A large handful of baby spinach leaves — rinsed and dried
20 large uncooked shrimp — peeled and deveined
2 tablespoons finely diced red onion
10 oz (280g) cottage cheese
2 small red chilies — deseeded and finely diced
A handful of cilantro (fresh coriander) leaves