Pizza In India -
a less-than-exhaustive study
There were two amusing questions people asked when we said we were
going to India:
"Are you taking your motorhome?" (uh... no).
"Are you going to try the pizza in India?" (duh).
eating pizza in India is the epitome of 'taking one for the team.'
India is not a country known for gret pizza, although it is a
nation that has become fond of bready, cheesy, flat round things that
they call pizza.
And while we didn't go there for the pizza, we had to try some. But we
admit, we didn't have to try some right away.
We changed planes in Mumbai (Bombay) and here's what we saw at the
little slice of America... although the Teekha Paneer Makhani
probably not available Stateside. Prices, by the way, are in
Rupees, making the medium Veggie Supreme a rather pricey ten bucks. But
hey, it's the airport. We didn't sample the Indian Hut's pizza, since
Air India had been feeding us frequently for the previous twelve hours
we spent most of our time in India at a beautiful but oven-less ashram
just outside a very small village on the Narmada River ,
Indian pizza was going to
require travel. Getting the first pizza took a mere twenty-minute
automobile ride to the nearest small city - Bharuch, in Gujarat state.
was busy the afternoon Cary and three friends did a shopping run to
Bharuch, and so she missed out on the experience. She has not
While Cary and three American friends were
shopping, he started asking locals where to find good pizza. Cary
doesn't speak Gujarati, but "pizza,
shubh pizza" wasn't too tough...
Everyone he asked pointed to a second-floor restaurant on Station Road.
Obviously, this place, the R
Trupti Restaurant, was the local's idea of pizza.
Strategically waiting for lunchtime, Cary convinced his friends that R Trupti was the
place to go.
The First Pizza
group climbed the flight of stairs to the restaurant and were greeted
by the very personable staff. They showed us to a table, gave us
- and that's when it all went south.
when Lillian and Cary visit a pizzeria, we usually stay pretty quiet
about it. If we mention this website at all, it's at the end of the
meal, after we've sampled the wares and decided to write about it.
But Lil wasn't there, and Cary hadn't explained the policy to our
our friend Mike H. said to the waiter as Cary was looking over the
menu, "this guy's a big pizza critic from the U.S.! He can make your
place famous on the Internet!"
The waiter nodded, possibly understanding.
"What are you doing, Mike?"
"I'm trying to get you a discount!"
"Mike, the pizza costs less than two bucks. I don't need a discount.
Besides," he chided, "we just don't do that."
pay no attention," Cary told the owner, who had suddenly appeared at
our table. "I just want to try one or two of your pizzas."
owner nodded. Cary opened the menu and pointed out their "Cheese Pizza"
and a "Veggie Pizza" thinking that going basic would be a wise choice.
A flurry of activity ensued. The owner sent one of the staff
to the street.
Thirty minutes later we were still unfed, as the
staff member returned with a bag of fresh vegetables. Apparently, Mike
had been understood and I was to be given special treatment. So it took
45 minutes for us to get a pizza.
In the interim, Cary asked to see their pizza oven.
Since gas ovens are expensive and wood is not a primary source of fuel,
they have two electric ovens at R
Trupti, in which they place par-baked flatbreads. Cary
thought of pastry shells, which turned out to be fairly accurate.
take a moment to say that, based on the account of our friends who
have pizza, the Indian food at R Trupti is first-rate. They make a
delicious Uttapam, for example, which is flat and round, and what Cary
should have ordered.
The actual pizza, however, was not good.
We've often said that, in our opinion, it's the dough that makes the
pizza. This pizza was made with what tasted like biscuit flour.
chew, no char, no taste. The toppings were surprisingly bland
- the veggie pizza
had very fresh veggies (see above) and chopped chili peppers; there was
heat but no light. The cheese was likewise tasteless. Cary wanted to
like the pizza here, but, as a dear Indian friend of ours would say,
did try to make it special for Cary - but putting Maraschino cherries
on the pizza was definitely heading in the wrong direction.
The Second Pizza
Several weeks later we visited Mt. Abu in Rajasthan State, a mountain
town in a state known for being mostly flat desert. In addition to
having some awesome temples (and we mean awesome in the original sense)
and breathtaking scenery, Mt. Abu is also a tourist destination
complete with lovely curio shops, tacky souvenir shops and, of course,
This time we were both present and we decided to go for an Indian pizza
chain called, interestingly, U.S.
In many Indian cities, U.S.
is a sit-down eatery, but the one in Mt. Abu is a pizza stand where you
can buy your pizza and eat in the street. They make ingenious use of a
small space - in the picture, a mysterious hand from above is giving
fresh pizza pans to the counterman/pizzamaker.
We did not order
their Margherita (advertised on their menu as "Cheeeeeesy, juicy pizza
for the young & tasteful"). Somehow, that description
Margherita didn't grab us.
And here's what we saw at the condiments counter:
Yessir, ground red pepper, oregano, and ... exactly what you think it
We decided to try a more Indian style and ordered the Jalandhar Tandoori Pizza
("Traditional Punjabi makhan masala with onion, green pepper, paneer,
tomato in cheese"), and we decided to share a small one. This set us
back 135 rupees (three bucks American).
the price, it wasn't bad. The toppings were fresh and tasty, it had
just enough spice to make it interesting, but again - the dough tasted
like it was made with biscuit
It finally dawned on us that the first pizzas in India came from Pizza Hut,
which set the standard for all Indian pizza thereafter. Because, as the
Pizza Cognition Theory states, your first taste of pizza determines how
you define pizza forever. And millions of Indians have been taught that
is the standard for pizza.
Sigh. We'd have been happier with Naan, cheese and tomatoes.
Pizza in India to our Pizza
from Pizza in India
to the passion-4-pizza