Vegan Kheema-Stuffed Naan-Calzones

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.

Naan-Calzones

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.

Opie, my dog

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!

Stuffed Naan

 

Vegan Kheema-Stuffed Naan-Calzones
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Indo-Italian Fusion
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 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
Instructions
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Add the garlic and ginger and dry thyme and saute for a minute.
  6. Add the tomato and the chipotle or paprika. Stir well to mix.
  7. Add the powdered coriander, cumin and mustard and mix in.
  8. Add the TVP after draining out all the water. Be sure to squeeze the TVP with your fingers to get out any excess water.
  9. 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.
  10. Add the coconut milk and more salt and pepper, if needed.
  11. 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.
  12. Mix in the coriander leaves and take off the fire. Set aside to cool.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. Bake the calzones in a preheated 475-degree oven for 8-10 minutes until golden-brown spots appear on the top.
  18. Serve hot with some marinara sauce or my Summer’s End Pesto (recipe coming up next).
(C) All recipes and photographs copyright of Holy Cow! Vegan Recipes.

Mint Biryani With Roasted Mushrooms

I haven’t gotten around to gardening this year, but my unkempt vegetable patch has already expressed itself in a riot of deep-green mint.

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Mint’s one of my favorite herbs, and one that I use most often in my Indian kitchen, after coriander or cilantro. Luckily for me, it is likely also the easiest herb to grow, and returns year after year with almost no tending. By spring I already have armfuls I can pick and toss into anything I please.

Mint’s also one of the most versatile herbs around: it’s great in sweets and spicy dishes alike. Regular old black tea turns into an extraordinary treat when you dunk in a crushed mint leaf. And who doesn’t love a mojito? Or two? In fact, Happy Cook just posted a fantastic recipe for a mojito, and I can’t wait to make it.

Mint’s also good for you– its cooling properties make it the perfect summer food. It aids digestion and is a great breath freshener.

I use mint lots of different ways in my cooking: I use it as a garnish for curries. I zap it with silken tofu, salt and lemon juice in the blender for a cooling raita. I mix it up with some nuts, garlic and olive oil for a refreshing pesto. And I use it, of course, to make the uber-delicious mint chutney.

But one of my favorite ways to use this divine herb is in this Mint Biryani With Roasted Mushrooms that I’m sharing today.
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I used white basmati rice for the recipe, but you can go ahead and make it with brown rice, for some added healthiness. I have separate instructions on how to cook the brown rice. Also, use more mint if you’re using brown rice so that the herb’s flavor can stand up to the nuttiness of the brown rice.

Here’s the recipe. Enjoy, all!
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Mint Biryani with Roasted Mushrooms

1 1/2 cups white or brown basmati or other long-grain rice

4 cloves

4 pods of green cardamom

2 1-inch pieces of cinnamon

1 tsp canola or other vegetable oil

3 cups water

Heat the oil in a saucepan. Add the cardamom, cinnamon and cloves. When they sputter, add the rice and stir for a minute until the grains start to turn opaque.

Add the water, and bring to a boil. Cover, lower the heat to low, and simmer for 15 minutes.

If you’re making this with brown rice, change the proportion of water to 3 3/4 cups. Once the water comes to a boil, cover the saucepan with a tight lid and bake in a 350-degree preheated oven for 50 minutes.

Let stand for at least 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, thinly slice:

1 pound of white button mushrooms or crimini mushrooms. You can also go with a meatier mushroom like portabella or shiitake here.

Toss the mushrooms on a baking sheet with 1 tsp oil, 1/4 tsp turmeric, 1/4 tsp red chilli powder and salt to taste.

Roast in a 350-degree oven about 20 minutes or until the mushrooms are tender and beginning to caramelize, but not burned.

(Tip: If you don’t have mushrooms around, potatoes would also be great here. Cut them into thick fingers, and follow the rest of the instructions. You might need to add a few more minutes in the oven for the potatoes to cook and turn golden-brown.)
In a blender, add and grind:

1 cup tightly packed mint leaves (Add another 1/2 cup if using brown rice. I would also add 1 tsp more of the garam masala and maybe another green chili, but I leave that to your taste.)

1-inch piece of ginger, minced

4-5 cloves garlic, minced

2 hot green chillies, minced

1/3 cup soft tofu (can use soy yogurt as a substitute)

1 tbsp lemon juice

1/4 cup water

In a large saucepan, heat 1 tbsp canola or other vegetable oil.

Add:

1 medium onion, sliced. Saute until it turns golden-brown.

Add 1 tomato, diced, 1/2 tsp turmeric, and 1 heaping tbsp of garam masala.
Stir and let cook until the tomatoes start expressing oil.

Add the mint paste and stir and cook for about 10 minutes on medium heat. Add salt to taste.

Now carefully add the rice to the mint, using a light touch so as to not crush the grains. Using a fork, mix the rice and the mint paste.

Cover and cook for another 2 minutes on a very low flame.

Sprinkle the roasted mushrooms on top. Biryani tastes especially delicious with a garnish of fried onions. To make this, heat 1/2 tbsp of vegetable oil and saute 1 medium onion, thinly sliced, and 1 tsp sugar. Turn off the heat when the onion caramelizes and turns a deep golden-brown.

Nuts, tossed in with the onions in the last minute of cooking, or raisins or even roasted sunflower seeds make a great garnish for biryani.

This biryani goes off to two great events: JFI: Mint, hosted by Ashwini and created by Mahanandi, and to SWC: Cooking with Greens hosted by Sowmya.

Thanks, ladies!

If you’re looking for ways to jazz up your rice, look for more great ideas here.

(C) All recipes and photographs copyright of Holy Cow! Vegan Recipes.