Naan Pizza with Lamb and Feta
One of my fellow bloggers once visited the Uyghur Autonomous Region in Western China and later posted a picture of something he called ‘Xinjiang Pizza’. It consisted of an oil and spice topping on the local version of Naan Bread and the idea inspired me to try something a little more complex. I have used Naan from my local supermarket for this recipe (though you could make it yourself, if you like), and I have given it a meat and two cheese topping enhanced with the flavors of Central Asia. Naturally, you can start with the basic idea and add whatever topping suit your fancy.
This recipe makes two ‘pizzas’ and thus calls for two pieces of Naan. The ones you see above are President’s Choice Naan purchased at my local supermarket. If that brand is not available to you, and you don’t plan to make your own from scratch, Naan, often in many types, are widely available in most mainstream grocery chains these days.
The sauce is actually my Homemade Roasted Red Bell Pepper Sauce. I had just made a batch of this and thought the smoky flavor might work well here. If you are not inclined to use my recipe, or any sort of red bell pepper sauce, you can substitute plain old tomato sauce instead.
Above, you can see pictured the toppings I used for this particular recipe. The meat is diced lamb, which is favored meat across much of Asia. Naturally, you can replace this with beef, or pork, or some other meat, or you could even omit meat altogether, if you prefer.
I have used Feta Cheese as one of the toppings here as Sheep Cheese is often paired with Lamb in the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East. This doesn’t melt, though, and since I wanted a somewhat pizza-like texture, I included some sharp White Cheddar Cheese as well.
The remaining ingredients are sliced Onion, diced Tomato, toasted Cumin Seed, chopped Green Jalapeño, and chopped Red Chili. The latter is actually a Salted Chopped Chili I prepare at home but you can substitute with a Sambal Oelek, or even just Red Chili Flakes.
The Basic Method
If you are going to use Cumin in your version of Naan Pizza, you will want to toast it first. This process is very important with cumin as it not only enhances the taste, it also brings out flavor that would not otherwise be apparent.
To do this, heat a dry pan to moderately hot and throw in the cumin seed. Toss and stir for a few minutes until the aroma arises and you can see that some of the seeds are starting to turn brown. Take the cumin off the heat quickly as soon as the first few seeds are browned as they will continue to cook afterward and you don’t want them to be too well done or they can be bitter. Divide the seeds into two equal quantities and set one half aside. Grind the rest to a powder in a mortar.
The Lamb is first marinated for about 30 minutes with the ground Cumin, the Red Chili, and a little splash of oil. When the meat has marinated sufficiently, you heat a sauté pan to high and add a tablespoon of oil. When the oil starts to smoke, add half the meat mixture and stir until it loses its pink color and then add the remainder.
The purpose of working in batches is to avoid cooling the pan down so much that the meat begins to steam. You want it to brown nicely and sear in the juices. When all the meat is cooked through and there are some nice crispy brown bits on a few of the pieces, remove from the heat.
When the meat has cooled slightly, put into a bowl and add the onion, green chili and tomato. This not only helps to flavor the meat as it cools, it also makes it easier to spread the toppings easily on the bread rather than adding them separately. At this point, you can stick everything into the fridge until you have had a nice refreshing beer and are ready for the final assembly.
Heat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and spread a bit of sauce on each piece of bread. I like just a little bit of sauce on pizzas while others like quite a lot. I went easy and used only about 3 tablespoons on each Naan, but you can increase this to suit your preference. Once this is done, sprinkle on the remaining Cumin Seeds and then about a third of the Cheddar. The purpose of adding a little meltable cheese at the beginning is to help bind the solid toppings.
Finally, spread on the toppings from the bowl. Add the Feta evenly across each piece, sprinkle on the remaining Cheddar, and pop the Naan Pizzas into the oven. Check the pizzas after about ten minutes or so. Some people like their cheese nicely browned whilst others prefer it just melted. Keep checking until it reaches your preferred state and then remove from the oven. Don’t serve yet, rather let it sit for a few minutes covered in foil until it cools a bit, then cut the Naan however you like and serve.
Your Recipe Card:
Naan Pizza with Lamb and Feta
- 2 pcs Naan Bread
- 1/3 – ½ cup Roasted Red Bell Pepper Sauce or Tomato Sauce
- ½ cup lamb cut into small dice
- ½ cup onion cut across in paper-thin slices
- ½ cup chopped tomato
- 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar
- 1 tbsp. Cumin seed
- 1 small chopped green Jalapeño
- 1 tbsp. Sambal Oelek or Chili Flakes
- 1/3 cup Feta cheese crumbled into small pieces
- Toast the Cumin Seed in a dry pan and divide the seeds into two equal quantities. Set one half aside and grind the rest to a powder in a mortar.
- Mix the ground cumin with the meat in a small bowl and add the salted red chili and a splash of oil. Leave this to sit for at least 30 minutes.
- Heat a little oil in a pan over high heat and, working in batches, quickly fry the meat and remove to a bowl when it is nicely browned.
- When the meat has cooled slightly, stir in the onion, green chili and tomato.
- Smear each Naan with 3 to 5 tablespoons of Sauce, half of the reserved Cumin Seed, and a sprinkling of the grated Cheddar.
- Now, divide the topping mix between the two Naan, followed by the Feta Cheese and the remaining Cheddar.
- Bake the Naan in the oven at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes or so until everything is hot and the cheese is melted and browned to your preference.
- Let cool for a few minutes and serve whole, or sliced, as desired.