VEGAN PIZZA PUDA WITH THE HAPPY PEAR
VEGAN PIZZA PUDA RECIPE
Pudas, or pudlas as they are known in northern India, are easy Indian-style vegetable pancakes. I smothered these simple gram flour bases in a range of different toppings and pizza pudas were born (see page 204 in East by West). Parents take note — this is a great way of hiding veggies or at least making them go down a bit easier! You could choose to add nigella seeds and asafoetida to the pancake batter, along with your choice of Dosha Churna Spice Mix (see page 247). Despite the Indian flavours, these pizza pudas team well with Italian toppings, so feel free to experiment with any fresh ingredients you have. I love mine with baby spinach or sautéed chard, anchovies and roasted red peppers, but then again, nothing beats a margherita! The recipe for this garden-fresh no-cook pizza sauce couldn’t be more simple — just blend and go. Same with the delicious basil oil — drizzle this on anything and everything. For a no-bake pizza you can simmer the tomato sauce first before spreading over the pudas, then cover with your choice of fresh ingredients such as rocket and ricotta and serve. The pudas are also great as garlic bread, or ripped up for dunking in soups. Cooking them in a dollop of coconut oil or ghee makes them crispy on the outside and soft on the inside and you can also thin them out more to make quesadillas or pancakes, sliced into wedges and drizzled with extra-virgin olive oil.
For the bases:
- 120g (1 cup) gram flour
- ½ tsp cumin seeds or ground cumin, or more to taste
- ½ tsp sea salt pinch of asafoetida (optional)
- 1 tsp nigella seeds (optional)
- 1 tsp Dosha Churna Spice Mix (see page 247 of East by West; optional)
- 175ml (¾ cup) water
- 115g (1 cup) shredded courgette, carrot or cucumber
- 1 tbsp coriander, finely chopped
- 6 tsp melted coconut oil or ghee
- rocket and ricotta, to serve
For the sauce:
- 6 plum tomatoes, skinned and deseeded (see page 260)
- 3—4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
- 1 tsp balsamic vinegar, plus more to taste
- 4 tsp sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 3 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
For the basil olive oil:
- leaves of 1 small bunch of basil (about 30g)
- 75ml (1/3 cup) extra-virgin olive oil
- pinch of sea salt
- To make the bases, mix the gram flour, cumin and salt, asafoetida, nigella seeds and Dosha churna spice mix (if using). Slowly add the water and whisk to make a smooth batter. Add the grated courgette and chopped coriander and mix well.
- Place a ceramic-lined or seasoned cast-iron frying pan on a medium–high heat. Test to see if it’s hot enough by sprinkling a few drops of water on it — the water should sizzle right away. Pour half of the mixture onto the pan and spread quickly and evenly with the back of a spoon. Starting from the centre, spiral the batter evenly outwards to form a 22cm (8½ in) circle.
- After about 6 minutes, the batter will have almost cooked, so gently spread 1 teaspoon of coconut oil over the top. Wait for about 30 seconds, then flip the puda using a flat spatula. Press down lightly with the spatula to help it to cook evenly. Turn the puda three or four times for another 4—5 minutes, until crisp and brown on both sides. Repeat for the remaining puda and oil and set aside until you’re ready to serve.
- To make the basil oil, bend the basil with the olive oil. This keeps for 3 days in the fridge, but make sure to bring it to room temperature before use.
- To make the sauce, roughly chop the tomatoes and put them into a blender or food processor, adding the garlic, vinegar, salt and black pepper. Blend until smooth, and then add further seasoning to taste.
- For a fresh pizza you can cook the sauce at this point for about 8 minutes and then spoon a dollop onto your pizza pudas, using the back of the spoon to smooth it out. Pile on rocket and ricotta and drizzle with the basil oil. Otherwise spread the raw sauce onto the pizzas, top with your favourite ingredients, then pop it into an oven, preheated to 180ºC (fan 160ºC/gas mark 4) or under a hot grill and cook to your liking.
You can refrigerate leftover sauce for up to a week. Alternatively, freeze it for up to 3 months. The easiest way to do this is to spoon it into muffin tins and freeze until solid. Pop the frozen cubes out of the moulds and transfer to a freezer container. Thaw overnight before using on pizza pudas.