Turkish Flat-bread Lamb Lahmacun... and a quick version. One day, while watching a documentary on different foods of the world, I happened to see a clip that focused on Turkish cuisine. I absolutely love it when they showcase outdoor farmer's markets... that's where you can see the culture come alive in foods and wares that are specific to a region. In any case, this little documentary I was watching focused on Turkish foods and the popular "fast food" item, called Lahmacun.
I had never heard of Lahmacun before, but I found out it's basically a Turkish flat-bread pizza that uses a raw spiced meat mixture as the base for the topping. But placing raw minced meat on a flat bread wasn't new to me. I posted a Greek version(Open-faced Kofta) some time ago, which is quite similar. And some time ago, my sister told me of an Armenian version that sounded very, very similar to the Turkish version of the Lahmacun. I suppose various countries have their own take on the classic pizza... quite fascinating, actually.
Yet, the idea behind the Turkish version is the tomato-based meat mixture as well as its very thin dough that's "rollable". The Lahmacun can be stuffed with fresh tomatoes, cucumber, onion and parsley and drizzled with some yoghurt sauce or a squeeze of lemon juice. Acidity is rather important to the Lahmacun, because you really need to cut the "sweetness" of the tomato paste lamb mix. In my opinion, the lemon just brightens the dish and brings it altogether. But I loved the idea of a rolled up pizza. And I knew I wanted to make it. Didn't wait long and found a recipe...
Oh, I sure enjoyed this pizza! If you are looking for a different sort of pizza, one that takes you to a different country, you just might want to make the Lahmacun. You've got to be open minded though, as this Lahmacun is loaded with various flavors not normally found on a traditional pizza. All sorts of ingredients can be added... the common ones being tomato paste, garlic, onion and paprika. But from there, recipes can vary quite a bit... there's the addition of sumac, cumin, cinnamon, and others. But it was the addition of cumin and cinnamon that transported me to a land far away... of course, if you like staying close to home, opt to skip the cinnamon:).... especially if you aren't used to cinnamon in savory foods. But I personally loved it, as it wasn't overly pronounced.
The Lahmacun can easily be a wonderful appetizer, cut up in small pieces... but it can also be a meal in itself. You'll find Lahmacun varies from place to place, depending on the spices used. Interestingly, there's also a different take on it... made with spinach and feta cheese, a vegetarian version I haven't yet tried, but sounds delicious as well. I ended up looking at Saveur's version for the Lahmacun I made... and from there, I sort of adjusted the measurements. I wanted to use a bit more meat... so I could try a quicker version of the Lahmacun, using tortillas instead of the yeasted dough. Because I increased the amount of meat, I also ended up adjusting some of the spices as well... but you can easily play around with spice amounts according to preference.
I found out that using tortillas for the base of the pizza works remarkably well, especially if you are short on time. I liked both... but preferred the homemade yeasted dough because it tastes more like a pizza:)... and it's more traditional. But, regardless, what you use, be it tortillas or the yeast dough, you'll definitely taste a different sort of pizza. It's delicious... or at least I think so:). Hope you enjoy...
Note: When baking the Lahmacun, if the homemade dough is stretched out thin enough, you will notice the crust bakes up quite crispy. I like to sort of cover them( after I remove them from the oven) so they soften up a bit and can be "rollable"... the moist meat topping will naturally soften over time without being covered.
And you don't have to roll up the pizza... you can eat the Lahmacun as you would a regular pizza slice.
Tip: The Lahmacun can be eaten warm, or at room temperature... so it's an ideal picnic bread. I like to also freeze a few... so I can have later on during the week(s). Just reheat in the toaster oven.
~Also, the meat mixture can last several days in the fridge, so if you want to make a fresh Lahmacun a couple of days in a row, you can... otherwise just freeze some of the meat mixture and take out and defrost when needed.
You will need: inspired by Saveur
Flatbread Dough: can use store- bought/homemade tortillas for a quick alternative
2 cups flour, plus more
1 tsp. sugar
2 tsps instant yeast
1 1⁄2 tsp. kosher salt
3/4 cup warm water (110-115 deg F)
Lamb Topping: for 1 dough recipe + 6( 6/8 inch flour tortillas)... or double amount of dough recipe if using the whole amount of lamb topping... or freeze half.
8 oz. ground lamb
1⁄4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4-6 TBS tomato paste (can use lesser amount)
3 TBS minced flat-leaf parsley
1⁄2 tsp. hot smoked paprika(can use sweet paprika/cayenne pepper)
3⁄4 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. sweet paprika
1⁄4 tsp. ground cinnamon(can be optional, if you don't like cinnamon)
1/2 tsp kosher salt, or to taste
3-4 cloves garlic, grated
2 small/medium tomatoes(1/3 cup), grated
1 small onion(1/2 cup), grated
1 jalapeno chile minced
chopped cucumbers, tomatoes
lemon wedges(this is quite important, and shouldn't be skipped... it brightens the dish)
salt as needed
Yoghurt Sauce: optional
1 cup yoghurt( or a mix with sour cream)
1-2 tsp za'atar, or sumac to taste
freshly grated garlic, a touch...or to taste
Ayran yoghurt drink (equal amounts of yoghurt and water, seasoned with a bit of salt.)
Make the Meat Topping:
1. Grind lamb, if needed...
2. In a large bowl, combine oil, tomato paste, parsley, hot smoked paprika or cayenne, cumin, sweet paprika, and cinnamon.... add ground lamb.
3. Grate garlic, tomatoes, onion, and chop chile. Combine everything and season with salt; set topping aside. You can do this overnight for better flavor.
1. Combine flour, sugar, yeast and salt in a mixer bowl(or food processor, as in my case)... and mix a few seconds to combine.
2. Measure out 3⁄4 cup warm water( heated to 115 deg F)add it to the flour mixture.
3. Mix/knead with a dough hook until you get a smooth dough... about 6 minutes. If using a food processor, process until a ball of dough forms around the edge of the food processor bowl... 1-2 minutes.
4. Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and knead a few seconds more just to bring the dough together smoothly.
5. Transfer dough to a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let dough rest until doubled in size, about 1 hour (or so).
6. Divide dough into 4 portions, and roll each portion into a ball.
7. Transfer dough balls to a floured baking sheet or counter) and cover with a damp tea towel and let it rest for about 45 minutes(or so).
- Place a pizza stone in bottom third of oven
- Preheat oven to 475° deg F.... for about 30 minutes
2. Brush off excess flour and transfer dough to a piece of parchment paper... I sort of rolled out all the dough pieces and placed some plastic wrap between each... but you can do one at a time.
3. Spoon about 3–4 tablespoons of meat topping onto dough and spread topping evenly to edges. I noticed if you don't want to have the edge puff up as you would on a normal pizza, you will need to spread the meat all the way to the edge... otherwise the edge will puff up a bit and be thicker( as were mine). Season with a bit of kosher salt.
4. Transfer pizza and parchment paper to the hot baking stone.
5. Bake until dough is golden brown and topping is cooked, 6–8 minutes.
6. Repeat with remaining dough and topping; serve warm or at room temperature.
Note: You can use tortillas, instead of the homemade dough for a quicker version.... I found out that you really need to spread the meat all the way to the edges, otherwise the edges can burn a bit.
~On the spur of the moment, I made a quick yoghurt zaatar sauce to drizzle on the Lahmacun... with some fresh sliced leek. But you can simply add any toppings you like.