I think people who don’t like pizzas are a little weird. No, a lot weird. Especially when they are married to me.
Yes, Desi– my Desi– is not a lover of the almighty pizza pie. Sure, he will eat it quietly when we order in a pizza, or when I make one at home, but I can honestly tell that his tummy is longing for something else. Most likely something that involves rice or pooris.
I, on the other hand, couldn’t love a pizza more. It is right up there among the foods I might order for my last meal. In fact, after going vegan I missed ordering pizza so much that I almost dropped to my knees and said a tiny prayer to the Italian gods when a Z Pizza opened in my neighborhood with multiple vegan choices.
As someone who loves pizzas quite so much, then, I am always trying to find ways to make versions that are not just vegan but also Desi-friendly. Today’s recipe is a perfect example of a pizza variation that we both can love because it appeals not just to my vegan tastebuds and Desi’s not-so-vegan ones, but also to our shared love of Indian food.
A calzone is basically a stuffed pizza, or a pizza turnover, or what have you. You stretch the pizza dough, stuff it with a filling, seal it, and bake it all up in the oven. What you get is not just delicious food but food that’s more fun and portable, say, than a slice of pizza.
The twist to my calzone, as you may have gathered from the title, is that it’s not made with pizza dough but with naan dough. Naan is something most of you have had at some time or the other at the Indian restaurant and it is a puffy flatbread that’s baked in a clay oven, or a tandoor. It tastes especially ethereal when used to scoop up spicy curries.
A basic naan dough is not unlike a pizza dough, except that it bakes up a little more tender and flakier and puffier. Perfect because one of Desi’s peeves is that pizza crusts are too thick and too chewy. To stuff into my naan-calzone, I made a spicy “kheema” filling. Kheema, in Hindi, means mince (usually mutton mince). Since Holy Cow! is an animal-free zone (food-wise), and very happily so, I made my mince with textured vegetable protein, or TVP. This is such a rich, spicy dish that there is no way you will miss the meat in here– in fact, even a meat-eater might actually think there is meat in this dish because of the great texture of the TVP.
I am feeling a little better now, and I want to say thanks to those of you who wrote in to wish me well. Opie, who also incidentally had surgery for a broken cruciate ligament last week, is recuperating, although keeping him from trying to run around is a HUGE struggle. He has been particularly unhappy about the large cone around his head that keeps him from licking the sutures. He has also been getting increasingly good at getting it off– last night I caught him in the act as he was trying to prise it off his head by pushing it against the couch. Those dogs.
Now here’s the recipe. Enjoy!
- For the naan-calzone dough:
- Mix in one bowl:
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1¼ tsp active dry yeast
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 tsp dry thyme and/or sage
- Mix in another bowl:
- ¾ cup soymilk or other nondairy milk
- 1 tbsp maple syrup
- 2 tbsp olive or other vegetable oil
- For the kheema filling:
- 1 cup textured vegetable protein or soy granules. Place the granules in a container, pour boiling water to cover them, and set aside for half an hour. Drain before using.
- 1 large onion, finely minced
- 1 green pepper, finely minced
- 1 medium potato, finely minced
- 5 cremini or button mushrooms, finely minced
- 1 medium tomato, finely minced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tbsp grated ginger
- ½ tsp dry thyme
- ½ cup dry white wine
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp coriander seeds + 1 tsp cumin seeds + 1 tsp black mustard seeds, all powdered
- Ground black pepper to taste
- 1 chipotle pepper, finely chopped (use 1 tsp paprika if you don’t have the stomach for this)
- ½ cup coconut milk
- ½ cup chopped coriander leaves
- To make the dough, make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the wet. Knead the dough by hand or on low speed if using a stand mixer for 10 minutes. Add 1 tbsp of water if the dough is too dry. At the end of the kneading you should have a really smooth, supple dough.
- Place the dough in an oiled bowl, turn around once to coat the top with oil, and allow the dough to rest about 1½ hours or until doubled.
- Meanwhile, make the kheema filling. Heat the oil in a saucepan. Add the onions and saute for a minute. Add the mushrooms and potatoes and stir to coat with oil.
- Add the white wine, salt, and some ground black pepper, and allow the vegetables to cook, stirring frequently, until the wine has evaporated and the vegetables begin to turn lightly golden.
- Add the garlic and ginger and dry thyme and saute for a minute.
- Add the tomato and the chipotle or paprika. Stir well to mix.
- Add the powdered coriander, cumin and mustard and mix in.
- Add the TVP after draining out all the water. Be sure to squeeze the TVP with your fingers to get out any excess water.
- Stir in the TVP and cook for a couple more minutes. The vegetables should be really tender by now. If they aren’t, cook a little longer, stirring, until they are.
- Add the coconut milk and more salt and pepper, if needed.
- Allow the mixture to cook until all the water has evaporated. The kheema should be thick with no visible liquid but it will not be dry.
- Mix in the coriander leaves and take off the fire. Set aside to cool.
- To make the naan-calzone shell, after the dough has risen for 1½ hours, divide it into six pieces. Shape them into smooth balls, cover with a damp kitchen towel, and set aside for 10 minutes so the dough relaxes, making it easier to roll.
- Roll each ball into an oval, about six inches wide and seven inches in length. Place ⅙th of the kheema mixture on one side, leaving a 1-inch edge from the ends to form the seal.
- Brush water on the edges of the calzone and pull the empty half of the calzone over the filled half. Press down the edges to seal, then crimp the edges up. Press down on the edges with the tines of a fork. You want to ensure a tight seal so the stuffing doesn’t spill out during baking.
- Place all the calzones on a lightly oiled baking sheet. Brush the tops lightly with some oil and sprinkle sesame seeds or poppy seeds on them, if desired.
- Bake the calzones in a preheated 475-degree oven for 8-10 minutes until golden-brown spots appear on the top.
- Serve hot with some marinara sauce or my Summer’s End Pesto (recipe coming up next).