Blame my Indian taste buds that were so used to heady spices in every meal, but for a long time, I did not care for marinara. To be fair, most of these sentiments were formed during my first year away from India, while I was still adjusting to real ‘American’ food – not the kind we get back in India where even Big Mac and KFC buckets have a few extra spices in them to cater to the local clientele.
My first taste of marinara came in the form of Spaghetti ala marinara. Anticipation faded into disappointment as I slurped my first mouthful of pasta – the tomato sauce, that could have otherwise benefited greatly from a little masala, seemed lonely without them. And I steered clear of marinara in menus ever since.
But I had forgotten something that my grandmother once taught me. “Never, never write something off”. And as always, the woman was right. After another disappointing experience with store bought marinara, I decided to take matters into my own hands- a concept that is frowned upon in matters of justice, but is highly recommended when it comes to food.
But wait a minute… why am I rambling on about marinara when this post is titled ‘The best (spicy) 5 minute Pizza sauce ever!’???
That’s cause, this sauce doubles as the most amazing Pizza sauce AND an incredibly delicious marinara!!!! It has now become my go-to all-purpose tomato sauce that I dribble on literally anything that could do with a little tomato sauce. I’ve even put them inside quesadillas and it tastes GREAT!
The secret ingredient? Fried dry red chillies. I usually keep a never-ending stock of fried red chilli flakes in my pantry. It’s a ‘Burmese’ habit that got passed down to me from my grandmother who grew up in Burma and couldn’t imagine life without a sprinkle of this magical stuff.
Making Fried dry red chilli flakes
It’s maddeningly simple to make – Heat a few spoons of oil in a small pan, fry a handful of dry red chillis for a few seconds until they start to brown a bit. Take them out immediately before they loose their gorgeous red color, but do not discard the oil. Save it for use in curries or stir fries because it creates a whole new dimension of heat in a dish.
Blitz the fried red chillis in a small food processor till it breaks up into a semi-fine clumpy powder. Store for several months and use in any dish that deserves a little heat.
This fried red chilli powder is the magical ingredient that takes this pizza sauce from ordinary to extraordinary! Another reason why this sauce is so intensely flavoured (trust me, it’s not just because of the heat), is because of the use of tomato ‘paste’ as opposed to tomato pureé.
Tomato paste is just tomato pureé that’s been roasted with olive oil until the liquid has completely evaporated and all that remains is an intensely earthy, dense paste of richly flavoured tomato flesh. You can make it yourself, but seeing as how I am trying to sell this off as a 5-minute deal, I used it straight out of a can.
It’s the simplest thing ever! Just combine all the ingredients, let it marinate for a few hours and that’s it! Bottled up deliciousness, ready to use. You can use it immediately, but I’ve noticed that the flavours need a couple of hours at least to mature and mingle a bit.
If using as a pizza sauce, just spread a few spoonfuls of it on a rolled out sheet of pizza dough and bake as usual. Check out my 35 minute pizza post. It’s the most simplest pizza base recipe I’ve ever come across. Now making myself a pizza from scratch is faster than the pizza delivery guy!
If using as marinara with pasta or chicken, sauté some onions, fresh tomato, a generous piling of the homemade pizza sauce and let it simmer for a minute before adding freshly cooked pasta. Season with fresh herbs, cheese and serve hot!