It reminds me of a few flat breads from South Asia too, like the famous Qeema Wala Naan, which is another minced meat stuffed, leavened flat bread. And the Punjabi Katlama which is topped with coriander seeds, lentils and chilli paste.
Some other names are Lahmajun, lahmajoon and Lachmazou too. The name of the dish is derived from it’s ingredients; “lahm” means meat and “ajin” means dough. It’s a flat bread layered with a sauce of fresh tomatoes and minced meat with a gorgeous and aromatic array of Mediterranean herbs and spices. It makes a satisfying and delicious meal but still feels lighter than the western style cheese loaded pizza. And when it comes out fresh, crispy edged and piping hot straight from the oven, it’s kind of hard to resist a second helping.
When fully done, the Lahmacun has a crispy edge and a soft interior. The minced meat sauce can be prepared a day ahead for better flavour and convenience. You can add sumac if it’s easily available where you live. Since it’s not available in Pakistan, I use a little sprinkling of anaardana ( dried and powdered pomegranate seeds) for a touch of sour on top. It makes a great lunch on the go and a treat for picnics and brunch. Traditionally lamb or beef mince is used in this Turkish Pizza Recipe but if you are not a fan of red meat like my daughters, you can make this with chicken mince too.
Can be made in bulk, frozen and reheated as required. If don’t have an oven, you can cook it in a heavy frying pan or on a skillet, covered, on low heat.
For Pizza Dough:
2 teaspoons fast acting dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup olive oil
Warm water to dilute yeast and knead the dough as required
For Mince Meat Topping:
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon anaardana ( dried pomegranate seeds)
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
4 plum tomatoes, chopped
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons olive oil
This Is What You Do:
Add garlic, onion, parsley, mint, paprika, cumin, coriander, pomegranate seeds, lemon juice and tomatoes in a food processor. Whiz briefly to make a chunky purée.
Heat the oil in a deep frying pan, add lamb mince and sauté for 4-5 minutes or till it changes colour. Add the vegetable and spice purée and mix thoroughly. Season with salt and pepper and cook covered on medium low heat till the lamb is cooked and liquids reduced sufficiently. Set aside to cool down to room temperature.
Dissolve yeast in 1+1/2 cup warm water, add sugar and cover the bowl. Leave to bubble up for 10-15 minutes. Add the flour and salt in a mixing bowl and stir well. Add the olive oil and the yeast mixture to the flour. Knead the dough till smooth and elastic, about 5-8 minutes. Add more water if required.
Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl. Cover with a wet, clean cloth and let it rise in a warm place until it doubles in volume, for about 1 hour.
Preheat oven at 220 degrees C. Knead the dough again for a minute. Divide it into 5 equal portions. Roll out each dough ball on a floured surface into a round, flat and crepe thin circle.
Place the bread in a lightly greased pizza dish or any flat oven proof dish. Spread the lamb sauce over the bread round. It’s your choice how much meat you want on your bread. I add heavy topping. Press down lightly so that it sticks to the dough. Bake this Turkish pizza for 6-7 minutes or till the edges are crispy golden. Repeat with all the dough balls.
Serve hot topped with fresh coriander, chopped onions, tomatoes, cucumber and lemon wedges. You can drizzle some tahini, garlic sauce or yogurt over it to make it creamy.