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Where EAST meets the Northwest

AP Photo/Richard Drew

From The Asian Reporter, V27, #6 (March 20, 2017), page 13.

Naan Pizza is a fun way to eat the flavors of India

By Elizabeth Karmel

The Associated Press

This naan pizza is a fun way to eat the flavors of India in America’s favorite food. The popular chicken tikka masala is widely believed to have been created in England for the British palate and is actually the national dish. But it is so tasty that restaurant diners have demanded that the dish is made worldwide.

These days, naan — Indian flatbread — is available in nearly every grocery store. It can be plain or flavored, and even stuffed.

Naan used to be an occasional treat when I’d go out to eat at an Indian restaurant. It was hard not to fill up on naan before the meal arrived. But now that naan is as available as pita bread, you can enjoy it at home.

The small size and light and airy texture of store-bought naan makes it a shoe-in for a quick pre-made pizza crust. And because I wanted to keep the pizza in the spirit of India, I am topping the pizza with chicken tikka masala which is tailor-made for pizza as it is the sauce and toppings in one. The ever-popular dish is chock-full of chunks of chicken simmered in an aromatic, creamy, and slightly spicy tomato sauce full of onions, garlic, ginger, cumin, and turmeric.

This sauce is the perfect thing to brighten up a boneless, skinless chicken breast and will "dress" to impress grilled shrimp, pork, and countless vegetables. I used to think I could only have this exotic sauce in an Indian restaurant, but truth be told, it is one of the easiest pan sauces to make.

Editor’s note: Elizabeth Karmel is a barbecue and Southern foods expert. She is the chef and pit master at online retailer CarolinaCueToGo.com and the author of three books, including Taming the Flame.

* * *

Naan Pizza with Chicken Tikka Masala

Servings: 6

Start to finish: 55 minutes

2 tablespoons clarified butter (ghee)

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 cups white onions, finely chopped (1 large onion)

3 cloves garlic, grated

1 inch piece of ginger root, grated

3 tablespoons tomato paste

2 teaspoons smoked sweet paprika

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 cups crushed tomatoes

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream or sour cream

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch cubes

2 cups grated mozzarella cheese

4 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

4 prepared naan bread

Heat clarified butter or ghee and olive oil in a heavy-bottom saucepan. Sauté onions until translucent. Add garlic and ginger. Stir to combine and continue sautéing until the garlic and ginger begin to turn golden.

Add tomato paste, paprika, cumin, cayenne, salt, turmeric, and cinnamon. Sauté for a couple more minutes to "toast" the spices.

Add the crushed tomatoes and chunks of chicken. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat and simmer about 20 minutes with the lid on. Stir occasionally. Stir in cream. Continue to simmer on low heat with the lid off, stirring occasionally until the sauce is reduced and the consistency of thick gravy. The sauce can be made in advance and kept for two days in the refrigerator.

To use: Preheat oven to 400° Fahrenheit. Lay the naan out on a rack set into a sheet pan and sprinkle a small amount of the grated cheese on the bread. Top the cheese with the tikka masala, leaving a 1/2-inch border around the edge. Sprinkle the top with more grated cheese. Place in the oven for about 15 minutes. The pizza is done when the cheese is melted and the edges are crisp.

Remove from the oven and brush the edges with a little olive oil while it is still hot. Serve and enjoy.

Nutrition information per serving: 490 calories (227 calories from fat); 25 g fat (13 g saturated, 0 g trans fats); 92 mg cholesterol; 975 mg sodium; 41 g carbohydrate; 4 g fiber; 7 g sugar; 28 g protein.

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