Julia Child in Delhi – Susanna Di Cosimo’s Sarson da Pizza, Gurgaon
The great chef’s life in Delhi.
[Text and pictures by Mayank Austen Soofi]
She has married thrice—to the same man. Susanna Di Cosimo, 42, came to visit our motherland from her Italy in 2011, and two years later settled in Lajpat Nagar. In 2016 she got hitched to her Indian sweetheart (at a court, Hindu, and Christian wedding), and now enjoys a happy existence in a 13th floor apartment in Gurugram’s Sector 49, with husband, Gaurav, mother-in-law, Indira, daughter, Anaaya, and housekeeper, Masudha.
With a cheeriness that’s infectious over this Whatsapp video chat, Ms Di Cosimo says she started baking Italian breads during the coronavirus-triggered lockdown last year when she found herself idle as a tour operator. “I would exchange my breads for Indian dishes with other serious cooks in the (housing) society.” The cooking became more absorbing and this month she started her own pizza enterprise. An Italian native in Delhi who tried Ms Di Cosimo’s “Diavola” confirms that “Susanna’s pizza was as ‘pukka’ as the ones in Italy.”
If true, then why is she making sarson da pizza for us? Currently in season, sarson is a quintessential dish from Punjab. Ms Di Cosimo exclaims: “Sarson is the speciality of my birthplace, Naples… we call it Friarielli.” Here’s the recipe.
Sarson da pizza, or Margherita with Friarielli
For pizza dough:
Flour “00” or strong flour 150gm
Fresh yeast 0.3gm (or 1gm active dry yeast)
2 pieces of garlic
3 big red dry chillies
5/6 tablespoon vegetable oil to fry
90gm fresh mozzarella cheese
Purée of 80gm fresh peeled tomatoes
Salt to taste in the tomato purée
50gm mustard leaves
15gm olive oil
Wash mustard leaves, selecting the smallest and softest. Put a deep pot on medium fire, pour vegetable oil till bottom is covered, two pieces of whole garlic and three red dry chillies.
Once hot, put the mustard leaves in oil. Add pinch of salt and stir. Cook on slow flame till soft.
To make pizza base, pour water into a large bowl, dissolve the yeast. Add flour, little at a time, mix with hands. Continue till flour is completely absorbed. Add salt. Knead dough until smooth, homogeneous and no longer sticks to hands. Form a ball, place it under a damp cloth for an hour to leaven. When ball looks “relaxed”, place it in an oiled container and put in the refrigerator.
Take out the ball the day after. Wait for it to double. Slap it with your hands, avoid rolling pin, without flattening the border.
Spread tomato purée on the base, place mustard leaves on top. Add mozzarella and olive oil.
Pre-heat your home-oven to maximum temperature. Meanwhile. place a large pan or a dosa tawa on high flame. Cook pizza on the pan/tawa till bottom is cooked. Now transfer it into the oven. Cook for 3-4 minutes. Serve.
Taste of Naples