A few years back my partner & I were visiting Istanbul during our holiday in Turkey. We were peckish, & asked our hotel staff whether they could recommend anywhere to go for a quick bite to eat. They instantly suggested a little place down the road – “they do lahmacun, you should try them” – so off we went to check it out, & were glad we did!
Lahmacun are a Turkish equivalent to pizza – a thin & crispy base, some meat & spices spread over it, topped with a some fresh salad or herbs & a squeeze of lemon juice – just roll it /fold it in half, & away you go, perfect portable street food & incredibly tasty.
When we got back I set about recreating the new tastes we discovered on our trip, turning my hand to lahmacun & also Iman Fainted (but that’s one for another time). They’re really easy to make, & the dough freezes well too – so if you don’t use it all, pop in in a plastic bag, stick it in the freezer, & you’re all set for your next batch (or just use it for pizza).
I’ve tarted up this version slightly with the addition of a salad & a tahini & herb sauce, as the flavours work really well together. However, if you’re in a rush or don’t have all the ingredients, go traditional with some flat leaf parsley & a bit of lemon juice instead.
Makes 6 lahmacun, enough for 6 for lunch, or 4 for dinner.
For the dough:
300g strong white flour
Packet (7g) of fast action yeast
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp olive oil
50g full fat natural yogurt
150ml luke warm water.
For the topping:
300g lamb mince
1 red pepper, roughly chopped
1 small red onion, roughly chopped
1 red chilli, roughly chopped (keep the seeds in it if you like heat in your food)
2 medium garlic cloves, roughly chopped.
1 medium tomato, deseeded & roughly chopped
A small bunch ( ~ 20g) of parsley & coriander, roughly chopped
2 tbsp pomegranate molasses
1 tbsp sumac
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp salt
1 tsp dried mint
1 tsp of tomato puree
½ tsp allspice
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp sweet & ½ tsp hot paprika (or go all of one type if you prefer less or more heat).
Herb & tahini dressing:
4 tbsp tahini
Juice of 1 lemon
1 medium garlic clove, crushed
Small bunch ( ~ 20g) parsley, leaves chopped
Small bunch ( ~ 20g) mint, leaves removed & chopped.
½ a cucumber
Juice of half a lemon
Salt & pepper to taste.
Start by making the dough. Place all ingredients except the water in a large mixing bowl, make a well in the centre & pour in the water. Mix to form a dough, then knead for 3 minutes on a floured surface until the dough is elastic. Form into a ball, pour a little olive oil in your hands, & then use to coat the ball of dough. Place in the mixing bowl, cover, & leave to rise for 1-2 hours, until at least doubled in size.
To make the topping, place the red pepper, onion, chilli, garlic, fresh herbs & tomato in a food processor. Pulse until the mixture is finely chopped – not quite a puree but getting towards that stage.
In a mixing bowl, add this mixture & all the other topping ingredients. With your hands, mix well for a minute or so until all ingredients are well combined. Cover & refrigerate until ready for use.
For the Herb & tahini dressing, place all the ingredients in a food processor & blend. Pour some water into the sauce as it’s blending to thin it out – add it slowly until it is a pouring consistency, probably around 50ml of water for this amount of sauce.
For the salad – dice up the tomatoes & cucumber, & mix with the lemon juice, salt & pepper.
When you’re ready to make the lahmacun, preheat the oven to 230 °C / 210 °C fan / gas mark 8. If you have a pizza stone, start heating it up & use it in the same way you would for a pizza. I don’t own one, so I use preheated baking trays – pop them in the oven to heat up at the same time.
Take the dough & knead for 30 seconds or so to knock out the air. Divide the dough into 6 pieces. Take a piece & roll out on a floured surface until really thin (probably around 2mm) -you tend to end up with an oval shaped piece of dough about 25cm x 20cm.
Place on a piece of baking parchment & brush olive oil over the upper surface. Take one sixth of the topping mixture & spread onto the dough to within 1-2cm of the edges. Take the baking tray out of the oven, & slide the baking parchment & lahmacun onto the tray. Bake in the oven for around 10 minutes, until the crust has started turning brown.
Take out the oven & serve immediately (I tend to have a production line going, as my oven will only hold 3 at a time comfortably). Put some of the tomato & cucumber salad on the lahmucun, drizzle over some of the dressing, fold/roll & enjoy!