There is nothing Italian about the Pizza anymore. It is now as Desi as Channa Bhatura.
We, the foodies, can thank late Mr. Rajiv Gandhi for marrying a person of Italian origin and opening India up to the cuisine of a country with which we do not share much heritage or history. Otherwise, a Pizza may have been only about as popular as the Paella (the Spanish national dish) is in India. The pizza has now gone totally Desi and like Mrs. Sonia Gandhi speaks fluent Hindi with an Italian accent. With every passing election Mrs. Sonia Gandhi’s Hindi improves, and so does the Indianization of pizza. We now get Aloo Tikki pizza in addition to the standard Chicken Tikka pizza at most pizza outlets.
Pecorino and Parmesan cheeses are hardly used in the pizzas of India; most use Mozzarella irrespective of the toppings. Not many bother about the cheese getting overcooked in an Indian pizza and hence Mozzarella works well whether you are cooking beans or chicken. Tulsi is at the core of the Pesto, but the sauce itself has lost out to a tomato ketchup derivative as the preferred layering option for almost all pizza bases. We love our “Palak” but Spinach as a pizza topping is a big no-no, and spinach is one of the first veggies to be added to an Italian pizza. Eggs? We like our omelets and “bhurjis” but egg as a pizza topping again doesn’t work for us. Good Italian pizzas feature creative uses of egg as toppings; herbs are often mixed with the egg before garnishing. Aubergine, artichoke hearts, and caciocavallo are rarely used in India. Caciocavallo is almost never used and is always replaced with Indian cottage cheese in most of the pizzas recipes which require this kind of cheese. Among the original Italian toppings the ones we have some strong perception about have survived. We can, perhaps, relate to them as “Italian” ingredients: corn kernels, broccoli, black and green olives, baby-corns, oregano (herb), and cherry tomatoes. Amongst meat, goat meat, fish, and pork have almost vanished; only chicken has survived the “desification” of pizza.
The foodie in me calls for recognition of the fact that Mr. Rahul Gandhi had a Spanish girlfriend; can we now pick the Paella please and initiate a “desification” of it in a similar manner. We want to have both our Desi Pizza and our Desi Paella. Enjoy!