It is that period of the life again. When everyone around you is asking “When is the (……) thing happening?” Insert in the bracket – getting married/ having kid/ having second kid/ blah blah and bhlah. And with a lot of my friends, cousins, their friends going down the path of having a baby, I am not spared.
From easy nonchalant remarks of my mom to the serious discussion which my granny had with me a few days back, everyone assures me how it is the “right” time. And then if I brush off their remarks, they put their feet down, gaze straight into my eyes and pointedly ask me – “Do you guys want kids or not?”. I meekly say a yes and prepare myself for the onslaught of the next set of reasonings which clearly establish that our generation thinks too much. Atleast about this issue if nothing else.
It is true that before I went to Paris to study a month long culinary course, I had thought that may be this is it. May be once I come back from Paris we will be ‘ready’ to have a baby. But something else happened. I suddenly realized that I have to do so many more things, before
resigning assigning most part of my day to changing nappies and monitoring growth spurts to answering questions about why is the apple red and why do we have to go to school. Sure, I adore little ones (am blatantly biased more towards baby girls than boys) and love to play with them and fuss over them etc. But as long as it is somebody else’s responsibility at the end of the day. As long as I can hand over the baby to someone else once it starts crying, I love babies.
We are still from that generation where our parents had the first kid in the first year of marriage. Without much ado. In fact when I asked my mom-in-law how they had spent their first wedding anniversary, I was surprised to hear that it coincided with the naming ceremony of her newborn baby. Simple. That was how mostly lives went on.
But apparently not now. The responsibilities of the baby business sound much larger than the joys. The pressure of making a healthy baby, then there is pressure of giving it quality time, combined with the pressure of growing it up into a noble, smart, good, well-behaved, witty, sensitive, mannered, loving kid – looms over me like a cloud. How will I be able to do that when on most days I don’t qualify for any of those adjectives myself?! How would we spend lazy days eating instant noodles and lazing around reading on the couch when we have to feed the baby 10 times a day. How can we get sloshed out over a healthy dose of bhaang drink, hog on some home-made pizza and sleep like an ass for three hours in the afternoon when the kid will have to do a zillion other things in those three hours?! Or how can I do a marathon of baking and cooking and researching with my big cook books on weekends if there are play-dates and birthday parties to be attended with the kids?!
The purists again try to explain me that this will be the case even if you have a baby 5 years later. In fact you would be older then and all the running around the kid will be more exhausting. But who knows? I might get fitter and wiser by then. I just might. Or not.
P.S : All of this does not stop me from calculating my ovulation dates. Oh, silly confused me!
So after the bhaang induced session, we did make the Pizza. Chicken for the husband and vegetables for me. I have experimented with several Pizza doughs in the last couple of months, but some smelled yeasty, some were flat, and some were just blah. But this one is a beautiful elastic dough which bakes into a layered crust and browns to a lovely crispness at the bottom.
I adapted (say copied) the recipe from Raks Kitchen, she is very popular with all the South Indian aunties around and I have tried a lot of her breakfast items, which work very well. The Pizza sauce is the one I have been using for ages, but essentially if I am not wrong, it originated from wikihow.
Home-made Pizza with chicken and vegetables
What you will need :
For the dough :
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp instant yeast
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1/2 cup water
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 1 and 1/2 tsp salt
- 3 tsp sugar
For the sauce and toppings:
- 5-6 tomatoes, pureed and strained to remove skin
- 1 tbsp chopped garlic
- 3 tbsp chopped basil
- oregano, pepper, salt and sugar to taste
- Shredded mozzarella or Pizza cheese
- Small chunks of chicken marinated with a marinade of choice and cooked 80% in a pan
- Onions, tomatoes, bell pepper and any other vegetable you fancy, cut into vertical strips
What to do :
- To make the pizza crust, mix flour, salt and yeast in a bowl.
- Take milk and water and sugar in a saucepan and heat it to lukewarm stage while dissolving the sugar.
- Add this milk and water mixture to the flour and stir it in with a spoon.
- Take it on the kitchen counter and knead into a smooth dough for 5 mins.
- Keep in a well-oiled bowl and cover the bowl with a plastic wrap or a damp towel. Let the dough rise to its double size for about 1 and 1/2 hours.
- To make the sauce, simmer the tomatoes till slightly cooked, add the garlic, basil, oregano, pepper, salt and sugar and cook till it all comes together.
- Pre-heat the oven to 230°C for 10 minutes.
- Then once the dough has risen, knead it again for a minute and divide into 4 balls of equal size. Keep the other dough balls covered while working with one.
- Roll the dough ball into a flat disk, making the sides like a rim. Transfer to a baking pan.
- Spread a thick layer of sauce on the disk, leave out the rim and then cover with a generous layer of cheese. Place the chicken and vegetable on top and spread another layer of shredded cheese. (You can cut down on the cheese to make it more healthy, but of-course it comes with the downside of not being cheesy enough).
- Bake in the pre-heated oven for 12-14 minutes. The pizza should move freely on the pan, be browned at the bottom and cheese should be melted on top.
- Serve sizzling hot with coke. Wait, diet coke. Yes.
- I am not a big fan of the elastic Mozzarella hence I use processed cheddar. You can use a combination of whichever cheeses you like.
- This dough is really easy to work with and it takes less than 10 mins to mix it, knead and then some time to rise. If planned even 2 hours in advance, it is fantastic quick meal.
- The Pizza sauce is very versatile and can be used for sandwiches, lasagna or even as a dip.