Saturday, 3 June 2017

Lahmacun - Turkish pizza (kosher, gluten-free)

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Lahmacun is Turkish pizza and transports taste buds instantly to Istanbul. Ahhhh!

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Let's say it out loud: Turkey is quite a shit country. No, no point arguing: it is. 

Just think about it: no-one other than Erdogan could possibly think that persecution of the Kurds, rampant violence towards women and honour killings somehow make up for the obvious deficiencies in the society such as lack of viable democracy and absence of human rights. Though, genocide-deniers such as him rarely make the merriest of the bunch. 

Incredible Istanbul, however, has for long been one of my favourite cities in the world. 

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But the warmest memories I have of my Tour of Turkey some years back are, without a doubt, food-related (hardly surprising, eh?). One of my biggest favourites were lahmacuns, bought from a stall for a mere euro on one of the narrow alleyways surrounding The Grand Bazaar

No wonder I fell for it- it is, after all, member of the pizza family; the corner stone of my diet.

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The dish combines meat (lahm) and dough (ajin) and is, depending on the region, also known as either Turkish or Armenian pizza. And unlike Turkish policies, this one is an easy one to fall in love with. 

Since discovering it, I've never missed a chance to get re-acquainted. If a trip to Turkey doesn't tempt you, you'll find good ones in London as well.

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Both the base and the topping layer are thin - the crust does not need to be puffy as in a pizza and the toppings should not overflow either. 

Instead of lamb you could also use minced beef and, if in a hurry, you could substitute the base with soft wheat tortillas or flat breads, too. 

You could also bake the dough into mini-sized lahmacuns - perfect for parties and picnics. In that case the recipe yields 24-28 lahmacuns. 

Traditionally lahmacun is served with lemon wedges, fresh herbs and simple tomato and cucumber salad (such as my Israeli salad!).

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Makes six

Lahmacun - Turkish pizza:


3 3/4 tsp dry yeast
2 1/4 tsp sugar
2 1/4 dl warm water
2 1/4 tbsp oil
5-6 dl flour (00- grade if possible, gluten-free if needed)
3/4 tsp salt


400 g ground lamb (or beef) 
1 (large)onion
2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 large (beefsteak) tomato or 2 smaller ones
1 large green pepper
1 1/2 dl finely chopped parsley
3/4 dl finely chopped mint
2 tbsp tomato concentrate
3/4 tsp ground cumin
3/4 tsp ground coriander
3/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp black pepper

also: red chilli flakes

to serve: remaining herbs, lemon wedges

Combine dry yeast, water and sugar and leave aside, covered for 5 minutes while the yeast activates. 

Then add oil, flour (and along with the last dl of flour) salt. Knead into a smooth dough. Brush with a little oil, cover with cling film and leave to double in size in a warm place for an hour. In the meanwhile prep the topping.

Pre-heat the oven to 250ºc  at this point, too, (in a fan assisted oven 230 should do). If you have a pizza stone, leave in in the oven. If not, then do the same with the tray.

Finely chop/ frate the onion. You can do this in a food processor, too, but in that case drain most of the liquid.

Cut the tomato in half, remove the hard core and chop very finely. Do the same with pepper, too. 

Combine all the ingredients (except for the chilli flakes) and work into a smooth mixture. Chill in the fridge until the dough is ready. 

Turn the dough out onto work surface, knead and divide into 6 (there shouldn't be any need for more flour) and roll into thin discs. It's easiest to do this on a parchment, which in turn makes it easy to flip them over onto the hot tray. 

Spoon a couple of tablespoons of the topping onto the base and pat into a smooth, even layer. Sprinkle chilli flakes on top and bake for 7-8 minutes until the meat is done and the edges start to get soe colour. 

In case you want your lahmacuns to stay soft, cover them with parchment and then top with a tea towel.

Serve with the remaining herbs and drizzle with lemon juice. 

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PS. in case lahmacun is up your alley, you shouldn't forget another Turkish take on pizza: pide!

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Onko teillä ollut jo mahdollisuus maistaa lahmacunia? Veikö se teidänkin sydämenne?



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