Some call it the “Turkish pizza” but in truth, I cannot think about pizza (the real one) without cheese and lahmacun does not contain a trace of it. Lahmacun varies by size throughout the country; some are as small as saucers and some are as big as a dinner plate. In my hometown they make the small version and I found out that when you try to make them at home; smaller the easier.
I never knew anybody to make lahmacun at home, until I came to US. But what’s common is to make the topping mix and send that to the neighbourhood’s bakery and wait for the little lahmacuns to come back, steaming hot. I fear that it is not even possible to have it done like that in big cities, but Mersin (where I am from) still offers bakeries specializing in making the bread for lahmacun and cooking it for you in their hearth. The stone oven makes a lot of difference!
When I made these, it was around 110F where I live; there was no way I was going to bake anything in the oven. In fact I was kind of doing some research on how to cook under the sun! So, instead of spending hours in front of our oven, I have thought about making my own “oven” using the backyard grill. Luckily the pizza stone we have fit perfectly on our barbeque grill, leaving some space on the sides. So, there was my outside stone oven.
Make the dough first and while it rises, make the filling. I didn’t time the whole time I spent in the kitchen and in front of the grill, but I assure you it will not be a fast dinner but you will be rewarded by the result. Especially if you were to make a simple salad to go with it: finely chopped tomatoe + cucumber + parsley + lemon juice + olive oil + salt would do it.
Even though I made this meal many times, I really liked the recipe that I am about the share, which incidentally is from another Turkish blogger. Thanks once more Erik!
Making the dough:
- 1 lb flour
- 1.5 cups yogurt (room temperature)
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1 small package of active dry yeast
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1/4 cup warm water
Mix the yeast + sugar and water, let the yeast foam up. Mix the rest of the ingredients but not all the flour at once. Add flour until you get a very soft consistency, not a sticky dough. Put into a big bowl, cover and let it rise in a draft free warm place.
- 1 lb ground beef
- 2 medium size onions, cut into small cubes
- 1 big bunch of parsley
- 3 medium size tomato, cut into small cubes
- 5 – 6 hot peppers or 1 big green bell pepper (again cut into small pieces)
- 3 cloves of crushed garlic
- 1 heaping Tbs Turkish hot pepper paste
- 1 heaping Tbs tomato paste
- 2 tsp fresh ground black pepper (could be more or less, depending on the taste)
- 1 tsp crushed red pepper (again, depends on the taste)
- 1 tsp allspice
- 2 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup water (yep, water)
Mix all the ingredients. ;)
Once the dough has doubled in size, divide into 16 or more equal sized balls. Thin by hand and roll to make a not so thin dough. Here, the shape does not matter but usually they are round. Divide the topping equally. Bake in the preheated 375F oven, or backyard grill. If making on pizza stone, which I suggest, do not forget to sprinkle some corn meal to avoid sticking to the stone. Be sure to put the baked ones in a large dish and cover with a clean towel while waiting for the rest to cook. And as said, definitely have some salad to serve it. It is also customary to have lemon wedges on the side as well.