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Diaspora Co.'s Paneer Tikka Pizza

Diaspora Co.'s Paneer Tikka Pizza

What if you could have a pizza that pairs the freshest flavours of India and Italy while supporting ethical consumption and an independent, women-owned business? This recipe does just that, with soft paneer (an Indian cheese made) marinated in a tasty Tandoori Masala spice blend and put on top of a pizza dough base. Made in partnership with Diaspora Co. –– a queer and woman-of-colour-owned company that sources spices from India and Sri Lanka –– it's an unexpected, saucy take on paneer tikka, the popular tandoor (clay oven) grilled appetizer. 

Diaspora Co.'s farmers work directly with them and are paid a living wage. That direct connection means fresher spices. While traditional dried spices often take 2 to 7 years to reach your pantry,  at Diaspora Co., it only takes between 6 to 12 months. The Tandoor Masala blend combines 15 of their single-origin spices for a flavour that's spicy, sour, sweet, earthy and umami all at once. With everything from cumin and green cardamom to saffron and turmeric, it's as interesting as it is satisfying. Since it was designed with tandoor cooking in mind, it works exceptionally well in Ooni's ovens, which have a stone base and can get up to high heat, which makes them similar to a tandoor.

Traditionally, paneer tikka is made by marinating planks of paneer and vegetables in yoghurt and spices and then cooking them in a tandoor. Asha Loupy, Diaspora Co.'s recipe editor, created this pizza recipe to mimic some of the flavours of the skewered appetizer. First, the Tandoori Masala blend is added to crushed tomatoes with a splash of cream, to create a spicy, luscious sauce. Then it's whisked together with neutral oil and covers the paneer, making for sumptuous slices of cheese. Then, the pizza is layered with the sauce, marinated paneer, mozzarella, red onion, green bell pepper and cherry tomatoes before being baked to a blistered, bubbling perfection.

Notes: If you don't have Diaspora Co.'s products, use any similar blend you can find. To make your own, try equal amounts of garam masala and red Kashmiri chilli powder or cayenne pepper with a dash of garlic powder.

15 minutes active 
1 hour passive
1 hour 15 minutes total 

Two 12-inch (30 cm) pizzas

Ooni Pizza Oven
Ooni Infrared Thermometer

For the dough
2 x 9-ounce (250 gram) Classic Pizza Dough balls
For the paneer
1½ tablespoons (14 grams) Diaspora Co. Tandoori Masala
1½ tablespoons (20 grams) neutral oil, such as canola or rapeseed
1 6-ounce (400 grams) block paneer, cut into 1½ x 1 x ¼" inch (4 x 2 ½ x ½ cm) planks 
For the sauce
1½ tablespoons (20 grams) neutral oil, such as canola or rapeseed
½ small red onion, finely diced
1 tablespoon (9 grams) Diaspora Co. Tandoori Masala
1 14-ounce (420 grams) can crushed tomatoes
2 tablespoons (30 grams) heavy whipping cream (optional)
For assembly
Flour for dusting
1½ cups (129 grams) shredded low-moisture mozzarella
½ cup (75 grams) green bell pepper, diced
½ small red onion, thinly sliced
10 cherry tomatoes, halved
Cilantro, for garnish

Make your pizza dough ahead of time –– at least 30 minutes prep, plus 90 to150 minutes for proofing. See our guide to making Classic Pizza Dough if you need help or a refresher.

Once your dough is ready to go, marinate the paneer. Combine 1½ tablespoons (14 grams) of Tandoori Masala and 1½ tablespoons (20 grams) neutral oil in a shallow bowl and whisk into a smooth paste. Add the paneer and gently toss it in the marinade, making sure each piece has a thin coating of spice on it. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour or overnight.

For the sauce, heat 1 ½ tablespoons (20 grams) of neutral oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally until they soften and start to turn golden around the edges –– about 6 to 8 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon (9 grams) of Tandoori Masala and continue to cook, stirring frequently until the spices smell fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the canned tomatoes and cream (optional), reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook until heated through, about 3 to 4 minutes. Turn off heat and set aside. 

Tip: If you're not using this sauce within 30 minutes, transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 5 days.

Fire up your oven and aim for 752˚F (400˚C) on the pizza stone inside. Use an infrared thermometer to quickly and easily check the temperature.

Dust your pizza peel with a small amount of flour, then stretch the dough ball out to 12 inches (30 cm) and lay it out on your peel. Use a large spoon or ladle to spread ¼ cup (63 grams) of sauce evenly across the base. Top with ¾ cup (65 grams) mozzarella, half of the marinated paneer, ¼ cup (38 g) green bell peppers, half of the red onion and half of the cherry tomatoes.

Launch the pizza into your oven. Make sure to rotate the pizza regularly to ensure an even cook. Cook for 60 to 90 seconds, or until the crust is nicely browned and the sauce and cheese are bubbling.

Once cooked, remove the pizza from the oven and sprinkle with chopped cilantro, then slice and enjoy immediately! 

Give your oven a 5-minute break while you prepare the second pizza, then repeat the assembly and cooking process.

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