What Is Lahmacun?

The origin of Lahmacun or popularly know as Turkish Pizza can be traced back to the early Levantine cuisine. The dish has existed for centuries in the region as a popular thin-crust snack food. Recently there started a huge argument between the Greeks and the Turks about who actually invented this recipe. In the Western world this pizza is more popular by the names “Turkish Pizza” or “Armenian Pizza” . 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 topped with a sauce of fresh tomatoes, minced meat and an 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.

Turkish Breakfast, Cappadocia, Turkey

Lahmacun – A Gem From The Colorful & Generous Turkish Table

I first tried Lahmacun not in Turkey but in a popular Turkish restaurant in my own city – Lahore. The experience was an absolute delight! Being a foodie and a food-blogger, I always try to figure out the main ingredients of any new dish that I try. So I recreated this Lahmacun recipe at home and posted it on my blog years ago. But to be able to taste a certain dish in the place of it’s origin is an experience on a whole different level. I was privileged to travel to Turkey with my family in 2022 and taste the most delicious and vibrant cuisine firsthand.

The very first thing you notice on arrival in Istanbul is the vibrant and omnipresent street food culture of the country. Turkish table is a generous table, especially the breakfast that we looked forward to everyday. From fresh cheeses, fruits, breads, honey on comb, Turkish style Shakshuka , homemade jams and their signature coffee – it’s a table to be cherished. Breads are the anchor of Turkish cuisine, be it Pide, Simit, Yufka, Gozleme or Lahmacun ( to name just a few). From breakfast to snack and mezze platters to sides for soups and with dinner, breads rule the scene.

Lahmacun, Istanbul, Turkey

Lahmacun – Love At First Bite

Being already a fan of Lahmacun, it was but natural that the very first lunch we had in Taksim was this light, crispy and fragrant Turkish pizza. I was also curious to know how close was my recipe to the real thing . It was a proud moment when my husband, who keeps enjoying but barely seem to remember the names of dishes that I keep cooking from around the globe, on the very first bite exclaimed that it was something he had already eaten at home. I had to remind him the name but the fact that he recognized the taste was enough testimonial for me that my recipe was a success.

Did I make any changes to my recipe after this experience? Yes. My original recipe was topping heavy. I guess, inspired by my local pizza experience or to in an effort to make it more filling a meal for my kids. But after having Lahmacun in Turkey, I realized that breads, for them are the star in their own right. They don’t load them with toppings or fillings, rather they serve the condiments on the side that enhance the taste of the actual bread.

Lahmacun. Turkish Pizza by foodaholic.biz

The Taste & Texture Of Lahmacun and Accompanying Condiments

When fully done, the Lahmacun has a crispy edge but is soft enough to be rolled into a wrap if desired. The minced meat sauce can be prepared a day ahead for better flavor and convenience. You can add sumac if it’s easily available where you live. Since it’s not easily available in Pakistan, I used a little sprinkling of anaardana ( dried and powdered pomegranate seeds) for a touch of sour. After tasting the authentic version from Turkey, I still think that anaardanaa is the closest substitute for sumac.

For condiments, you can serve zaatar (spice mix) on the side mixed with olive oil or sprinkle on the top. Lahmacun tastes amazing with a drizzle of lemon juice or yogurt on top. It is traditionally served folded around a mix of chopped onions, tomatoes and parsley salad. It is recommended to pair it with the salty, yogurt drink, called Ayran in Turkey – a close cousin of our salty Lassi. Lahmacun 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 use chicken mince. Or even a vegetarian version with mushrooms or soy granules.

Lahmacun, Turkish Pizza

Lahmacun, Turkish Pizza Recipe

Maria Nasir
Lahmacun or Turkish Pizza is a thin crust flatbread, topped with a meat mince and tomato sauce.
5 from 3 votes
Prep Time 2 hours 40 minutes
Cook Time 7 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 47 minutes
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Mediterranean
Servings 5 persons

Ingredients
  

  • 3 cups plain flour
  • 1 cup semolina
  • 2 teaspoons fast acting dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 kg lamb/chicken/beef mince
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cumin ground
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon ground
  • 1 teaspoon sumac or annardana ground
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley chopped
  • 1 small onion chopped
  • 4 medium tomatoes chopped
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 lemons cut into wedges
  • 1 cup thick yogurt optional
  • 1 cup mixed onion, tomato, parsley chopped salad
  • 2 teaspoons zaatar spice mix for sprinkling on top optional
  • 1/4 cup olive oil for drizzling on top or serving on the side

Instructions
 

  • Dissolve yeast in 1 cup of warm water, add sugar and cover. Leave to bubble up for 10-15 minutes.
  • Add the flour, semolina and salt to a large mixing bowl and stir well. 
     
  • Add the olive oil and the yeast mix to the flour. Knead the dough till smooth and elastic, about 5-8 minutes. 
     
  • Add more water if the dough is too tough, gradually 1 tablespoon at a time. If the dough gets too soft – to handle, sprinkle a little more flour and keep kneading till you get the desired elastic texture. 
     
  • Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl. Cover with a wet kitchen towel and leave to rise in a warm place until it doubles in volume, almost 2 hours.
     
  • Transfer the dough onto a lightly floured surface. punch it back and knead again for a couple of minutes. Divide into five equal portions. And then shape each portion into a dough ball.
     
  • Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for another 30 minutes. 
  • While the dough is resting, place a baking tray in the oven to preheat and set the temperature at 220 C.
     
  • At the same time we can make the meat and tomato paste for the topping. To make the paste simply place all onion, tomatoes, tomato paste, garlic. parsley, salt, pepper, paprika, cumin, cinnamon and sumac or annardana in a food processor till everything is mixed and turns into a paste. Now add meat mince to the paste in the food processor and briefly mix till everything is incorporated. 
     
  • To make Lahmacun, lightly flour the dough balls and roll out into very thin rounds. Place the rounds on baking sheets individually. Smear the meat paste over these rounds evenly, spreading to the edges. Press the topping with your finger tips in the dough gently to make it stick. Do not overload with topping or the dough will get soggy and heavy.
     
  • Place the Lahmacun over the baking sheet in the oven on the preheated tray. Bake for 6-7 minutes or till the edges are crisp and golden. 
     
  • Repeat with all the rounds till all five are cooked. Serve immediately with suggested sides or on it's own. 
     
     

Notes

 
You can make the dough a day ahead and refrigerate. Or even roll out and completely set the Lahmacun with topping many hours ahead and just pop in the preheated oven when you need to bake.
The baked Lahmacun can also be wrapped in butter paper and frozen. Thaw them on kitchen counter and microwave covered to reheat right before serving.
 
Keyword Lahmacun, Pizza, Turkish

9 Replies to “Lahmacun, Turkish Pizza”

  1. Wow! I am in love with this delicious lahmacun bread. The semolina will make the crust crisp and the topping on the bread just to good. I will make some when my kids come need someone to knead the dough now. Will update.

    1. 5 stars
      Thank you, Archana! It’s our favourite any time snack. Go with mushrooms or tofu in the paste if you want to make vegetarian version.

  2. 5 stars
    Thin crust pizza with minced meat topping sounds absolutely delicious Maria. Adding semolina with flour definitely made this pizza crispy. I can imagine the texture and taste. Can’t wait to try.

    1. Thank you, Sujata! You’re right, semolina makes the dough firm which results in a crispy crust – more than thin crust pizza.

  3. Excellent Lahmacun dear Maria!
    We don’t have anaardana here, it’s a very rare spice, but we’ll make it with the rest of the ingredients:)
    We always wanted to make this dish, but for some reason we never did!
    Thank you for the wonderful recipe!
    Hugs,
    Panos and Mirella

    1. Thank you so much for your kind appreciation dear friend, Panos and Mirella 🙂 A thumbs up coming from wonderful foodies like you two means the world to me 🙂 I understand anaardana must be difficult to find where you live as sumac is not available to me. All we need to do is really add a touch of sour, so a little more lemon juice would do just fine 🙂
      Wonderful to know that you like the recipe and will be trying it out 🙂
      Love n hugs! xx

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