Lahmacun – Turkish flatbread with minced lamb

Now for some reminiscence… Around four years ago I was in a band made up of impoverished, over-educated Oxbridge graduates. It was a lot of fun, but you can imagine that not having much money means you can’t eat as well as you’d like. I remember one week we were having day-long recording sessions in Stoke Newington, and we all went out to find some cheap food. Our friend Adam who was mixing for us told us to go to one of the many local Turkish restaurants – who as we all know sell the well-known kebab – and ask for a lahmacun. This, it turned out, was a very thin Turkish/Armenian speciality consisting of a flatbread topped with minced lamb; like a very thin pizza. It cost about £2.50, but was very filling and tasty.

I’ve not had one since, but I’ve always been meaning to try it again. The final item in my field&flower meat box was some minced lamb, so what better recipe to attempt! Lahmacun turned out to be simple to make, so hurrah. All you need to do is get the flatbread dough right, and the rest takes care of itself. It’s also very healthy because you hardly use any oil, and you also don’t use other fatty pizza-esque ingredients like cheese or sausage.

Flatbread
350g plain flour (this will make 6 little pizzas)
2 tsps of yeast (I used a sachet of Hovis Fast Action Bread Yeast)
250ml warm water
Slug of olive oil

Topping
Minced lamb – I didn’t have that much, about 400g
Half a red pepper and half a green pepper, finely chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves onion, finely chopped
1 red chilli, finely chopped
1 tbsp chopped parsley (I used dried parsley)
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground cumin
Large squidge of tomato paste or sauce

Prepare the flatbread. Combine ingredients in a bowl and mix to form a stick dough. Take it out onto a floured service and knead for 5-6 minutes until it’s smooth. Put it back in the bowl, cover and place somewhere warm rise for an hour.

To prepare the mince, simply combine everything until it’s well mixed and set aside.

Now bring the magic together. Once the dough is about twice its original size, take it out and work it again. Divide into six balls and roll each one out as thin as you can – all shapes welcome! The hardest part is trying to pick up the thin dough and laying it on a baking tray without breaking the shape. Flouring the surface should help. Then add a few spoonfuls of the lamb mince mixture to each flatbread, going all the way to the edges. Bake it high at 240C for 8-10 minutes, or until the dough is golden brown.

Lahmacun makes a great hot snack! It’s tasty but surprisingly light. If you can really get a thin crust, it makes all the difference. I felt the recipe lacked salt, as I think the peppers and herbs add a lot of sweetness, so I would try adding a touch of salt to your mince mix before you cook it – or maybe even something a bit tart like Worcestershire sauce!

I’m curious to know what other variations of pizza there are in the world. Know of any?

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