Bangalore weather, an open terrace and a grill when put together, the possibility of fun times are endless and that’s what we were shown at the Independence Day celebration grilling workshop at the Weber Experience Center.
I ‘grill’ stuff in the oven, on the stove top grill pan, but grilling on an actual grill is a different ball game altogether. Lighting the charcoal, getting the grill to optimum temperature, where to position the food on the grill, how to clean the grill, safety precautions, there’s a lot to understand and learn about this cooking technique.
The fun part is grilling is not just about steaks or paneer tikkas. You can make delicious grilled pizzas, roast a whole chicken (or any other bird you fancy) and even make an apple pie on a grill. Once you know how to make the grill work for you, the possibilities are endless.
Our cooking instructor, Neetha and the grill expert, Shiva were our teachers for the afternoon. We started with some of the basics like how to fire up the grill, safety mechanisms etc. Weber not only sells grills but also everything you need for grilling such as uniformly shaped charcoal made from coconut fibre, the cakes to light the grill with just a matchstick, the steel wool grill cleaners and so on. Armed with a few of these accessories, it seemed like quite a breeze to light, cook and clean up.
We started by making the pizza dough – a regular one and a multigrain base with flaxseeds (which I loved). Neetha also showed us how to make a cheese burst pizza, which most of the participants were happy to upgrade their pizza to, but their wait to get their pizza out of the grill was somewhat longer than us regular pizza folks, as a thick pizza takes longer to get done. There was also a whole roast chicken with delicious mushroom stuffing, I could almost eat the stuffing raw, it was that good.
One of the show stoppers of the session was the paneer veggie skewers. Big chunks of paneer, squares of bell peppers in all colours and mushrooms, marinated in a special mix of spices, skewered and grilled to perfection, these were absolutely divine.
The other show stopper of which we could not stop taking pictures were the apple pies made on the grill. The tops turned stunningly golden brown and glossy and insides were melt in your mouth. The others also made a chicken skewers sizzler with barbecue sauce. By this time, so much food had been consumed inhaled eaten that the choco lava cakes which were the last thing on the menu had to be looked at with ‘sorry-i’m-too-full’ eyes!
Top 4 tips about grilling
Add the fat / oil to the marinade to the food and not on the grill. This will ensure food does not stick to the grill and it gets a nice golden colour on grilling.
Wait for the grill to heat up to the required temperature before placing the food, or it will stick to the grill.
Foods that need to be cooked over longer period like a whole roast chicken or apple pie need to be placed away from the hot charcoal and not on top of it. This is indirect grilling. Foods like vegetables, paneer etc which get cooked in no time, they can be kept on the grill directly over where the charcoal is burning- this is direct grilling.
Do not keep opening the covering lid to check the progress of the grilling. Each time you open the cover, the temperature drops and takes time to come back to the optimum temperature, resulting in a longer time taken to get the food cooked / grilled.
Grilling workshops at Weber (Bangalore) There are 3 kinds of workshops conducted at the Weber Experience Center. The basics of grilling which is free for all, an intermediate and an advanced session. Complete details available here. It’s also a fun quality time for couples to learn grilling together.For regular updates on workshops, you could follow them on Facebook here.
I’m sharing with you Neetha’s pizza recipe, which I made the following day at home and it turned out to be the best pizza I’ve made in ages.
Makes 3 medium pizzas (medium thickness crust)
When we got grilling at Weber & Neetha's recipe for the best pizza ever
For the multigrain base
- 1 cup water lukewarm
- 2 tsps sugar
- 1 1/4 tsps yeast instant (or active dry)
- 2 1/2 tsps yeast or fresh , crumbled
- 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
- 2 tbsps flaxseed powder (grind s to a coarse powder in the chutney jar)
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 cup milk
- 2 tbsps olive oil
For pizza sauce
- 2 tbsps olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic , finely minced
- 1 onion small , finely chopped
- 200 g tomato puree (tetrapack is fine)
- 1 tsp chilli flakes (or less)
- 1 tsp black pepper freshly ground
- 1 tsp sugar (the recipe says 2 tsp, but it was a tad too sweet)
- 1/2 tsp salt
- For base:
- In a large bowl, mix the water, sugar and yeast. Let it sit for 5-10 mins until frothy. This means that the yeast is active. Add the flours, flaxseed, milk, salt and knead until it comes together. Add the olive oil and knead till the dough is smooth (around 5 minutes). Cover and keep aside until doubled in volume. This could take 30 mins-1 hour depending on the weather.
- Divide into 3 or 4 balls and keep aside.
- For sauce:
- Heat the oil, saute the garlic and onions until soft (around 3-5 mins), do not brown the onions. Add all remaining ingredients, and simmer for 3-4 minutes. Remove into a bowl and keep aside. You can make this ahead of time and refrigerate in air tight container.
- Keep the toppings of your choice and mozzarella cheese ready.
- Preheat the grill to around 200C / oven to 180C.
- Grease a large square of tin foil with olive oil. Place the ball of dough and with fingers stretch it out by pressing, into 7-8" diameter circle. Brush with oil and allow this to rest for 5 minutes. Spread the pizza sauce (2 tbsp) evenly over this. Top with cheese (sliced or grated) and then with the toppings of your choice (olives, jalapenos, bell pepper, onions etc.). Bake for 25 minutes at 180C or grill for 10-15 mins (not directly over the coals), add more time for a stuffed (cheese burst) pizza.
- Cut into wedges and eat immediately.