Lahmacun

Lahmacun

A petite, rolled-up, crunchy pizza crust bursting with the
sweet tang of minced lamb and the zest of fiery chilli flakes,
lahmacun is Turkey’s oh-so-addictive street snack.

Origins
Byzantine Greeks sprinkled their flatbreads with olive oil and herbs. Known as pita, these were the precursors of the pizza. It is not known if the Turkish nomads who conquered Byzantine territory adopted the idea, or if Turkish pizzas are an adaptation of the Italian dish. Adding to the culinary conundrum, the word lahmacun comes from the Arabic lahm biajin, ‘meat and dough’.

You’ll need
Crust
4 cups (600g) plain flour
1¼ cups (300mL) water
¼ cup (60mL) olive oil
3 tsp instant yeast
Salt (sprinkle)

Topping
2 large, ripe tomatoes
1 large, ripe red capsicum
1 large onion, peeled and
chopped
1 bunch of parsley
250g (9oz) ground lamb or
beef
1 tbs tomato salsa or sugo
¼ cup (60mL) olive oil
Red paprika powder
Ground cumin
Ground black pepper
Salt to taste
Red chilli flakes to serve
Lemon segments to serve

Cooking Method
1 Combine all the crust ingredients in a bowl to create a dough. Knead thoroughly and leave to rise for at least an hour.
2 Tear off balls of dough, about enough to fill your palm. On a board dusted with flour, roll out the dough thinly with a rolling pin to form the lahmacun bases. Ideally each one should be about 20cm (8in) in diameter and 2–3mm (⅛in) thick.
3 For the topping, place the tomatoes, red capsicum, onion and parsley in a food processor and blend until the mixture has the consistency of a thin sauce.
4 Place in a mixing bowl with the ground meat, salsa or sugo, olive oil, paprika, cumin, pepper and salt. Manually mix until all the ingredients are integrated. The mix should be slightly moist.
5 Ladle a portion of the topping on to each base, spreading evenly.
6 Place the discs into a pizza oven or standard kitchen oven (preheated to around 220°C/430°F) for 5–8 minutes (until base is just crisp and topping is sizzling).
7 Sprinkle the lahmacun with chilli flakes and/ or a squeeze of lemon juice as desired.

Tasting notes
With a thin, light crust, lahmacun are pulled from the oven, sprinkled with chilli flakes (often a distinctive, dark variety known as isot, from the city of Urfa in Turkey’s southeast), and served rolled up in a paper bag. Your first bite will be mostly thin crust, crisp and flaky, with a hint of the delights within to fire your appetite. As you reach the moist, aromatic meat mixture, you’ll notice a hint of tomato-salsa sweetness, offset by smouldering chilli and tart lemon juice. The sweet-meaty spicy combo will tempt you back for more. There’s no shame in that: most punters buy a stack and proceed through them, liberally strewing each successive one with more chilli as their palates blaze.

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