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Now for some pizza!
Priya Khanna, Seema Tarneja |
June 01, 2005
piz' za, A baked pie of Italian origin consisting of a shallow bread-like crust covered with seasoned tomato sauce, cheese and often other toppings, such as sausage or olives.
he word pizza is believed to have its origins in an old Italian word meaning 'a point'. Which, in turn, became the Italian word 'pizziare', which means 'to pinch' or 'pluck'.
The first time the word seems to show up anywhere is in a Neapolitan dialect word -- picea or piza -- circa 1000 BC referring, perhaps, to the manner in which the hot pie was plucked from the oven.
Pizza is probably the most globally recognised food today. Today, it is also America's favourite food.
Originally a food for the poor, it is now a dish for everyone. It is truly the result of a transformation developed over the centuries.
Its shape is not limited to the flat round type. There are deep dish pizzas, stuffed pizzas, pizza pockets, pizza turnovers, rolled pizza -- all with combinations of sauce, cheese and toppings limited only by your inventiveness.
But the best pizza still comes from the individual pizzaiolo, the pizza baker, who prepares his yeast dough and ingredients daily and heats his oven for hours before baking the first pizza.
Of course, the American pizza and the Italian pizza are two different things. The Italians first took the pizza to the States. And, like any other dish, evolved to suit its new environment and palate.
The Indian pizza is radically different from the Italian or American pizzas, with a variety of ingredients and spices added to suit the Indian palate.
What makes a good pizza?
A good pizza is actually a very simple dish made with fresh ingredients. It makes for a very healthy, satisfying meal.
Pizza is also easy to make at home. It doesn't have the same taste as a pizza baked in a wood-burning brick oven, but it is good.
The wonderful thing about pizza is that you can invent your own. Just keep the basics in mind and you are set.
The main ingredients
One of the most important ingredients for pizza is the tomato-based sauce.
Italians love tomatoes. And they were used as a topping by Raffaele Esposito, the Italian baker who is credited with being the first to create the modern pizza.
Why they are good: Tomatoes have such wonderful properties that it would be really difficult to do without them.
They are known to be rich in lycopene which is known to have a protective effect on the heart and prevents cancers.
They help reduce high blood pressure, provide relief from diarrhoea, eye irritation and rejuvenate the skin. They also help restore liver health and prevent persistent fatigue.
~ Mozzarella cheese
A pizza is not a pizza without a large handful of grated cheese topped and melted on it. The cheese of choice is mozzarella, a stringy, and sometimes gooey, white cheese.
Mozzarella has mild, but enjoyable, taste.
When you top the pizza: Make sure to grate, and not slice, the cheese.
This allows for more even cooking and better distribution.
Take care not to overcook the cheese so that when you serve pizza, the mozzarella has a soft elastic consistency.
If the cheese is brown and feels crispy, you could lose some of the taste and texture that make a pizza so enjoyable.
Some other Italian cheeses that you can use are:
Other cheeses gaining popularity as pizza topping include:
- Monterey Jack
Today, it is acceptable to use a mixture of different cheeses. But beware. They lose much of their distinctness when cooked together.
Though rich in calories, cheese adds to the saturated fat content of the pizza that makes it tastier and contributes towards the protein and calcium content.
What you could use: The low calorie Britannia cheese or Amul cheese.
Healthy choices when making a basic pizza at home
1. Use wholewheat flour, bran flour or soya flour to make the dough.
2. You can use regular slices of wholewheat bread or bran bread instead of the regular pizza base.
3. Soya nuggets, like nutrella, can be used as toppings instead of pieces of meat. Soya nuggets are also a good source of protein and iron.
4. Use low fat cheese, grated tofu or homemade cottage cheese as toppings.
5. Use green leafy vegetables like spinach in the tomato sauce.
6. You could opt for healthy options like cabbage, broccoli, brinjal and capsicum.
7. A thick chapatti rolled out like a pizza base and topped with the regular toppings makes a complete, interesting meal for children. You also have the advantage of a variety of vegetables that can be tough to introduce into a child's diet.
8. Use small-sized uttappams as a pizza base with the regular toppings. This makes for easy digestion.
9. If you do not have an oven at home, a hot tawa is the best alternative. Place the pizza on the tawa, cover it with a lid and let it cook.
When eating pizza outside
1. Avoid having colas and alcoholic beverages with your pizza. They add to the caloric intake.
Opt for a plain soda. This gives you that fizz you need.
The best option is to have a glass of fresh lemonade water that enables the digestion of protein.
2. Avoid cheese-filled pizza bases -- they are rich in calories and add to the saturated fat content of the diet.
3. Avoid pizzas with different meat combinations. Stick to only one kind of meat option. Else, your system will find it hard to digest it.
4. A thin and crisp pizza topped with vegetables is a good choice.
5. Avoid French fries as a side order. Choose a low calorie salad, maybe a tossed salad.
6. Have pizza at lunchtime or as an early evening snack.
When you have pizza during the day or as an evening snack, go very light on dinner.