A Tale in Red: Turkish Pizza

Lahmacun, also known as “Turkish pizza,” is a popular and delicious dish with its roots in the Middle East. This thin, crispy flatbread is made from dough, ground meat, vegetables, and spices. It is commonly eaten as a street food or a quick snack, usually rolled up for convenience.

The ingredients used in lahmacun differ depending on regional preferences. However, the traditional recipe calls for a blend of ground lamb or beef, diced onion, tomato, parsley, and various spices like paprika, cumin, and chilli flakes. The dough is made from a simple mixture of flour, water, and yeast, rolled thin, and then topped with the meat mixture.

One of the unique features of lahmacun is its cooking method. Unlike most pizzas, it is baked directly on the surface of a hot oven, giving it a crispy, cracker-like texture that is perfect for wrapping around various toppings.

In Turkey, lahmacun is often served as fast food, rolled up for on-the-go eating. However, it is also popular at home, often accompanied by various side dishes and dips.

The origins of lahmacun are somewhat disputed, as the dish has been enjoyed in various forms across the Middle East and Mediterranean region for centuries. However, it is generally believed to have originated in the Levant, encompassing parts of modern-day Syria, Lebanon, Israel, and Palestine.

One theory suggests that lahmacun was created by Armenian bakers who settled in the region during the Ottoman Empire. The Armenians are known for their expertise in bread-making, and it is thought that they may have adapted a traditional Armenian flatbread recipe to include minced meat and spices.

Another theory suggests that lahmacun may have originated in Turkey and that the dish evolved from traditional Turkish flatbreads such as pide and bazlama. Turkish cuisine has a rich history of using minced meat in words such as köfte (meatballs) and kebabs, so it is possible that the idea of combining meat and dough was a natural evolution of these culinary traditions.

Why don’t try to make it at home?


Ingredients for the dough:

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp. active dry yeast

1 tsp. sugar

1 tsp. salt

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 cup warm water

How to prepare the dough:

  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, yeast, sugar, and salt.
  2. Add the vegetable oil and warm water, and mix everything together until a dough forms.
  3. Knead the dough on a floured surface for 10-15 minutes, until it becomes smooth and elastic.
  4. Place the dough in a clean bowl, cover it with a clean towel, and let it rest in a warm, draft-free place for 1-2 hours, or until it doubles in size.
  5. Once the dough has risen, punch it down and divide it into 8-10 equal portions.
  6. Roll each portion into a ball, and use a rolling pin to roll it out into a thin circle, about 8-10 inches in diameter.

Ingredients for the topping:

  • 1 lb. ground lamb or beef
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/4 cup parsley, chopped
  • 2 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 2 tbsp. red pepper paste (optional)
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 2 tsp. paprika
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon

Instructions for preparing the lahmacun:

  1. Preheat your oven to 500°F (260°C).
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the ground meat, onion, garlic, tomatoes, bell peppers, parsley, tomato paste, red pepper paste (if using), olive oil, cumin, paprika, salt, black pepper, and lemon juice. Mix everything together until well combined.
  3. On a floured surface, roll out the pizza or Turkish dough into 8-10 inch circles.
  4. Spread a thin layer of the meat mixture over the dough, leaving about 1/2 inch of dough around the edge.
  5. Transfer the lahmacuns to a baking sheet or pizza stone and bake in the preheated oven for 8-10 minutes, or until the dough is crispy and the meat is cooked through.
  6. Remove the lahmacuns from the oven and let them cool for a few minutes before slicing and serving.

I usually serve it with some lettuce (sliced), sliced tomatoes sliced onions), fresh herbs, and lemon wedges.

Enjoy your homemade lahmacun!

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