My first visit to Landour was back in early 2000 with a very dear friend. We stayed at the Dak Bangla back then. Ever since then, the Ivy Bank Guesthouse has been my home in this heavenly place. My next unplanned trip to Mussoorie was in 2014, right after I left the Swami Rama Sadhakagrama Ashram in Rishikesh after observing days of voluntary Mauna (silence). The two nights I spent there by myself remain etched in my memories. I spent my days there walking in the clouds, quite literally.
In 2017 I lived for almost a year in the Landour Cantt. area. For those of you who may be unfamiliar with Landour, it is on top of the Mussoorie hill, a Cantonment area, still well preserved by cascading trees and views, for some parts of the year from the tourist banter. During the British Raj, it was their summer holiday capital. The cemetery in Landour still has tombs of English men and women that date back centuries! The stone-paved roads of Landour took me back to parts of the English countryside I often saw, growing up. The locals were more than kind to me, and some of them have grown to become my extended family today.
For anyone who visits the region must, and I reiterate – must visit Cafe Ivy. It is located in the famous Chaar Dukan area. The view from the cafe is certainly beyond breathtaking, especially when it snows, during sunsets and the Winterline time.
(Winterline- A magnificent, natural phenomenon seen here in the latter part of the year, one of the few places in the world to see it.)
Cafe Ivy is the perfect place to go to at any time of the day. Their menu is varied, with their ingredients thoughtfully procured, even when it is always harder to bring back the specific components from the valley. Their food and service never seize to fail. My personal ritual there is the Mutton Seekh pizzas with potato wedges and the picture-perfect views from the big glass windows and balcony.
Apart from the food, decor and spatial design cannot go unnoticed. It is designed by the exquisite Aditi Sharma Design Studio. Her work creates the perfect escape for mundane routines, with this one being a masterpiece. Once you walk down the steps to enter the cafe, the layout and sounds transgress you to a quaint cafe, perched somewhere in the middle of Europe. Every detail is built with great love and a sense of nostalgia and an element of surprise. Surprise because the first time I set foot in this cafe, I was amazed to see a space and food like this in the Himalayas in India. The hand-painted mural on the balcony is my favourite.
The cafe is owned and run by Ashish, Mohit & Zico. They are a jovial lot, only adding more energy and joy to the vibrance of the space. Some evenings they also have local artists who play mesmerising tunes and songs on request. Cafe Ivy has already become a landmark to Landour even though it opened its door only in 2015.
Today, I am inspired to share my thin crust pizza recipe with you plus a simple hack to make them ahead, crisp and perfect, every time.
Recipe for The Perfect Thin Crust Pizza
For the dough:
- 3/4 cup lukewarm water
- 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons olive oil, divided
Add the flour and salt. Mix with a stiff spatula or wooden spoon until floury, shaggy dough forms. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and knead until it forms a smooth, slightly tacky ball that springs back when you poke it, 5 to 8 minutes. If the dough sticks to your hands like bubblegum, add a tablespoon of flour at a time until it’s easier to work with; avoid adding too much flour if possible.
Cover the dough with the upside-down bowl or a clean kitchen towel and let sit while you prepare the pizza toppings, about 10 minutes.
Divide the dough into 4 to 6 equal pieces. Working with one piece of dough at a time, use a rolling pin and roll them into thin round circles. (NOTE: the dough will double when heated, so the thickness of rolled out dough should be half of what you desire. If the dough starts to shrink back, let it rest for 5 minutes and then try rolling again.)
Heat a pan and on low heat dry roast the rolled out dough on both sides for 5-10 seconds each. You want to stay away from browning.
Preheat the oven at 220 Celsius and prepare your pizza. Spread some marinara sauce on your pizza, followed by cheese and then other toppings.
Carefully remove the preheated baking sheet from the oven and place pizza on it.
Bake until the crust is golden-brown and the cheese is melted and browned in spots, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove the pizza from the oven and cool for about a minute before slicing and serving. Repeat with the remaining dough and toppings.
Refrigerate leftovers dough or half-cooked pizza bases in an airtight container for up to 4 days.
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