Festive blues

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After a long, long time, I’ve spent an amazing weekend in the city. Plus, after a long time, I and my husband are alone on the occasion of Diwali. Though I kept myself busy with the cleaning and decoration of the house, by afternoon, I got a hint that we’ll be spending our three days of Diwali holidays in a dull mood.

The husband was busy with the carpenter, showing him the exact wall locations to put the nails on, to beautify our main door entrance. After making lunch, I gave a big hint to my husband that we better go out. Somewhere. I was bored already. So, we decided to go to my favourite bookstore in the city, the New Midland Book Shop in Arjun Marg market in Gurgaon.

There were a few makeshift shops selling Diwali stuff in the middle of the market, and I dived right in. Looking at the flower prices some of us shoppers couldn’t help but say, “Diwali mein Diwala nikaloge kya, bhaiya?” Meaning, you flower sellers will make us bankrupt during Diwali. A few steps ahead, chic paper bags were sold by a stationary shop. From gold motifs to chevron and paisley prints, I liked them all. After much bargaining and looking around, I ended up buying a set of paper bags, rangoli colours, diyas and jasmine and marigold flowers.

The highlight of the evening was the piping hot samosa that I had with tamarind and coriander chutney and my visit to the bookstore. You know, while having Indian street food, there are some rules that you can follow. Always opt for anything that is served hot. Avoid looking at the overflowing dustbins around the place. And, don’t even try to look at the waiter cleaning your table with a dirty cloth. Noticing all this will only kill your experience. It’s just you and the street food. Relish it like no one’s watching.

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In the next hour, it was just me and the books. These days, it’s a rare case when I and my husband step out of the house just to visit a bookshop. I loved each second of my time there. The books were well categorised and the latest, must-read books were easy to spot. There was no ‘new arrival’ counter; the latest releases were mixed with the other bestselling books, but were highlighted by the owner.

Just as I stepped in the basement of the bookstore, I saw a dainty woman arranging some books. She gave me a cane chair to sit on, and then, dear readers, I was in heaven. It was just me and the sound of the flipping of the book pages. You can’t compare this experience with online book buys. You can touch the book, read it to see if you like its flow, and if you’re like me, you might as well sniff a book.

And then came the question of the evening, what’s for dinner? I and my husband both had a bad tummy episode after our last food order, so we decided to eat at home. I happily agreed, as you know, I was in a happy mood after an evening well spent at Arjun Marg market. Dear husband said the mood will last only till the next day, which I didn’t respond to.

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Cooking when you’re hungry can be difficult. I looked for an easy switch. I had some spare wheat dough, and all I could think of was roti pizza. I’m sure almost all households must have this in their last-minute menus, but I’m still sharing its recipe. Have a great Diwali, dear readers! For some, Diwali means going home, and for some, it’s dealing with the feeling of home. Enjoy!

Recipe: Roti Pizza

I prefer making roti pizza as a last-minute fix, hence, using the oven is never an option for me. I just use a griddle and a kadai with no handles, and the pizzas crust comes out crisp and the cheese melts just fine, just as I like it. Plus, the pizza base here is  made of wheat flour and is not a fermented one, so it’s healthier.

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Most of the times I use my good old Heinz tomato ketchup. But, sometimes, I also make my own pizza sauce. For which, you can blanch two tomatoes, peel them and once they’ve cooled down, grind them to a thick paste. Sauté the paste on a pan, with a dash of salt, olive oil, chopped garlic, red chilli flakes and oregano or basil leaves. When it comes to cheese, I mostly use processed cheese blocks. But, you could use mozzarella cheese, which is perfect for pizzas.

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For seasoning, you could add anything that you like. I prefer a hint of crushed dried oregano leaves. You can use chilli sauce, chilli flakes, black pepper powder, basil leaves, olive oil and salt to adjust your taste.

For veggies, I almost always end up using a tomato, onion and green capsicum. You could use any other veggie as well. You can choose cottage cheese pieces as a topping with other veggies, some green chutney with your base sauce and a sprinkle of paneer tikka masala.

Here you go:

Roll a roti with a rolling pin and roast it on a hot griddle or tawa. Half-cook one of its side. Now lower the flame, take the roti off the tawa and keep it on a plate. Apply some tomato sauce on the cooked side of the roti. Spread some chopped veggies on it and cover it with grated cheese.

Sprinkle some plain flour on the griddle and put a few drops of olive oil or ghee on it (too much oil or ghee can burn the base). Take the roti and place it on the griddle; refer the pictures above. Keep the flame low. This way, your roti pizza will not stick to the griddle.

Cover it with a handle-less kadai or any other utensil that is big enough to cover the roti pizza and create a dome effect to trap the heat. Let your pizza cook for five minutes. Once the cheese melts, remove it with the help of a tong and serve!

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