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Hardeep Singh-Kohli: Chicken and Aperol naan bread pizza recipe

Naan bread pizza - Credit: Archant

After fundraising curry night in support of the Grenfell victims, our resident foodie gets creative with the leftovers – and some Aperol Spritz

There was no greater example of the day after the night before than Sunday past. The first Saturday of July had been one of those contradictory collisions of community concern and corporate culpability. Just over two weeks earlier, a little-known west London tower block became a tower blaze. The richest, most prosperous borough in the world’s sixth wealthiest country could only watch on as the schism that exists between those that have and those that have not, was cleaved yet further apart. It feels disrespectful to be writing about the victims, about the senseless civic cost cutting and the flagrant disregard shown to those whose lives were led over two dozen floors while bodies still remain within the burned out shell-shocked symbol of what social housing has become in the UK.

While our elected leaders grabbed grubby agreements with religious extremists, while our mantra-muttering Prime Minister couldn’t have looked less stable, less strong, the country found true leadership amongst the hijab wearing, track-suited ‘underclass’ of white working class and the immigrants that have lubricated London life for decades. There are doubts that we will ever know the full extent of the casualties; yet I am certain we will hear the full extent of the articulate anger, the eloquent emotion and the impassioned intelligence of those that survived.

At times like this when all you do is cook, write, do stand up and buy new sneakers, there is a palpable and profound sense of powerlessness. This powerlessness was made yet more profound as the barely governing party in Westminster gave us a textbook Tory Tweedledum and Tweedledee. Governmental absence made our hearts grow stronger. We should live in a civic society, a cohesive community. I raised a family not far from the tower. I drove by Grenfell at least once daily. Saturdays spent shopping around the local markets. I had to do something. Anything.

The generosity of those around the smouldering tower had meant that there was an abundance of donations. Novelist Linda Grant informed us via Facebook that what was needed urgently was money for the community; while the ruling classes find bank bail-out money in mere moments it seems the bureaucracy penalises citizens who have been burnt out of house and home, not sure if their loved ones are dead or alive.

I posted a tweet. We were going to do a curry night, with a quiz. No sooner had my finger left the send button than a Yorkshire woman called Kate messaged me back and offered her services. Kate is a digital marketing expert. (I know what each of those words means but have no idea what she ACTUALLY does). That was a fortnight ago. Somehow we threw a day and a night together. People are as astonishing as our government is morally corrupt. So many businesses, so many performers, so many folk gave to the cause. Kate is one of those astonishing people. Saturday was a success; the curry flowed and the BBQ gave much charcoal love.

As a thank you to Kate I suggested I cook her dinner on Sunday; she was so busy on Saturday, like a chicken bereft of a head, that she didn’t have time to eat. Most of the meat was eaten and only a bowl of chana masala was left. But as is always the case, be it in a restaurant, a wedding or at home it’s impossible to get the quantity of bread/rice absolutely right. As I entered Kate’s south west London kitchen she introduced me to what she lovingly calls the ‘Wall of Naan’. There must have been two dozen boxes stacked ceiling high, filled with bread.

‘Any chance you can do anything with them?’ Kate asked more in hope than expectation. I remembered my friend ‘Curry Dave’ who fiendishly combines a naan bread with pizza toppings. It’s so wrong it’s right. Five minutes of prep, a quarter of an hour in the oven and an evening of contented silence and Aperol Spritz. Two people can create community that is both effective and powerful. While tragedies will always be tragic we are compelled to collect the crumbs of comfort to somehow make sense of the senselessness. What could be more senselessly sensible than a naan pizza?

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2 medium naan breads, plain is best

A garlic clove, crushed

4 tbsp of tinned, chopped tomatoes

½ tsp sugar

A splash of Aperol

1 small red onion, thinly sliced

1 heritage tomato, thinly sliced

A medium ball of mozzarella

A handful of green olives

A few torn basil leaves

A sprig of rosemary

A leg and a thigh of cooked chicken, cooled and chilled then stripped

Sea salt

Fresh black pepper

Olive oil


Preheat the oven to 180C. Place the crushed garlic into a pan with the olive oil. Once you have done that turn the heat on. This method allows the garlic to infuse the oil as it heats rather than catching and burning in hot oil.

Once the garlic starts to colour add the chopped tomatoes, sugar and Aperol. (There was no wine and I was felling summery).

Bring to the boil and then let simmer for about 15 minutes to allow the tomatoes to thicken a little.

Slice the red onion and heritage tomato before tearing the mozzarella into bits. Once the tomato sauce is ready spread some on the nan and adorn with topping. Season well and finish with a glug of olive oil

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