This recipe is a fable. The moral of which is, spit-roast fools on a beach. Or, lock your heart against charity.
Two young people I have considerable personal objection to have been making a racket all evening close by protesting the constant flow of festive Bengali meals this pujo, till their mother convinced my mother to send me over to lend a hand with them and her in-laws so she could get the big Nobomi dinner prepared in a faint imitation of peace. So off I went, sacrificed at the altar of the Milk of Human Kindness. Again.
The Veggie Monster
Since the kitchen was occupied and the children pretty much holding a two-people protest rally against the food in it anyway, their grandfather suggested "we" use the smaller kitchen upstairs to make them "something interesting" to eat. A do-it-yourself dinner, only of course I would be doing the actual doing. Very well. Taking stock of the small fridge and the single-shelf-pantry and keeping "interesting" in mind, I suggested we make pizza. A general cheer went up. All we needed was cheese, which was fetched forthwith. Then, trouble began.
"You're going to make begoon pizza!" screeched The Younger, appalled, seeing me take a lovely purple brinjal out of the fridge (that's aubergine/eggplant for those that don't follow 'brinjal').
"Yes!", I said, with the 1000-watt fake cheer one puts on when dealing with children one particularly dislikes.
"You're so stupid," said Younger, while Older screamed, "Dadooooo! She's feeding us begoon pizza!" Like I was shoving it down his screechy throat.
Enter stage right, grandfather known as Dadu. "You're going to feed baked begoon to children?" he accused.
"No," I said, irritated and showing, "I will slice these thinly, rub them with a little salt, turmeric and sugar, fry them, and then put them on the pizza".
"Why?" demanded Older.
"Will you make daal-bhaat pizza next?" Asked Younger slyly. Daal, rice and begoonbhaja is something of an everyday Bengali delicacy.
Sensing rising tempers, Dadu re-assumed strike "Begoon is fine, fine" he began in a pacifying tone, "But you see, the reason we're making them dinner upstairs is because they specifically don't want any more of the usual fare from downstairs..."
I gave up. After all, it wasn't MY grandchildren I was trying to feed. Although if you're going to make veggie pizza at home, I strongly advice one try with the brinjal. Just fry it like I say above and use instead of meat. I filched the idea from my Sicilian classmate who used to make the most divine parmigiana. Really, all we're doing is adding a flour crust. And some other delicious things :-)
"Okay!" I said with furious cheer, "no begoon! We'll have a lovely tomato-garlic-onion pizza!" To soothe myself, I started making an artistic pile on the kitchen slab.
Two stony faces met my faux-smile. They were good stony faces. Too bad I'm not a softie, or a grandparent. I gave them a happy smile--a real one.
"Well, I'm going to make a lovely tomato-onion pizza! And then, I will go downstairs and eat the wonderful prawns Ma is making. Mmm!"
"Can we have the ham Baba brought last week?" ventured Older, always the first to fold.
"Your baba bought ham into the house?" asked Dadu sharply.
"Whatever", said I, ending the conversation.
Older sped off.
The 'ham' turned out to be 'smoked meat' cut from the animal's belly.
That's right. We were going to have bacon pizza.
The crust: I mixed a teaspoon of dried yeast in a cup of warm water. People watched googly-eyed and tried to taste the yeast behind my back. Then, I poured some sunflower oil (in absence of olive) in about four or five fistfuls of flour+half teaspoon salt, kneaded well till the flour was crumbly, then poured the yeasty-water in to make a stretchy dough. I thought I'd dissolve a spoonful of sugar in the warm water before adding it to the yeast for more flavour to the crust, but what with cooking with only quarter of my mind, I forgot.
Once done, put the dough in a container with a tight lid and let it rise overnight. Or at least an hour or so :-) Please don't use plastic wraps if you can avoid it. I hate the casual use of plastic when something renewable, multipurpose and more eco-friendly like lidded containers are so easily available.
Toppings: Slice or dice tomatoes. Crush garlic with the back of the knife. Peel and slice onions. Chop fresh coriander leaves/cilantro. Toss the onions and garlic in a teaspoon of hot oil. If you really mind missing out on the sugar earlier, compensate by adding some now and frying the onion till they turn a lovely shade of lilac-brown.
Now, on a greased baking dish--they only had square ones (and so do I, actually) so these are square pizzas--stretch the dough out till it forms a thin, unbroken layer all over it. If the dough tears, just pull it back together, no harm done. But make sure it isn't too thick, or it'll have underdone patches. Now just arrange the layers--sliced mozzarella, tomatoes, fried onions.
Had I been cooking for myself, I would have rubbed the tomatoes with oil and baked them by themselves for a few minutes, to dry the cores out while preserving the taste, but I just wanted to be done with this act of charity as soon as possible. Because, forget not, I was being nudged and shoved and knives were being played with as I made dinner.
We were doing fine till the fresh-from-the-smoked-carcass bacon. "It won't take a minute to fry", I said, putting a frying pan on the stove. "It can cook in the oven", said Younger with authority, "I'm hungry!". "Please don't waste any unnecessary time", chirped Dadu. "They're so hungry". So I rolled up the square pieces of bacon, chopped them up, and made a layer of meat. Of course, it was going to release a lot of liquid fat upon baking, and the liquid was going to make the dough soggy. But, it wasn't my funeral.
Now garnish with the chopped coriander leaves, salt, pepper, and if you like, a dash of paprika. Put another layer of cheese on top. The ovens here come with very specific settings, so I preheated at 100C and baked for 20 minutes (give or take) at 150C, and then grilled just the top at 200C for about 3-5 minutes. Melted cheese below, and grilled cheese above. Mmmmm!
This story could have had a happy ending right here, but alas, it was not to be. The bacon fat and water from the tomato did make the dough soggy. See bottom-right corner of pic above. So... after all that effort, I had to then cut up the pizza into slices, and fry it on a goddamned tawa to make the crust edible.
And thus ended my misadventure of feeding recalcitrant children by trying to teach them how to cook. Never again. And I advise you most strongly against it too.