This Anatolian snack, lahmacun, is a great culinary creation. The thin crispy base is smeared with a layer of lightly spiced lamb with fresh parsley, sumac and a squeeze of lemon. Rolled into a cone to eat, it is the most perfect form of street food – hot, portable and delicious. In restaurants, miniature versions are often served as a hot meze dish.
‘Lahmacun’ flat breads with spicy lamb and tomato
½ tsp sugar
150ml lukewarm water
350g strong white bread flour
½ tsp salt
A few drops of sunflower oil
For the topping:
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
225g finely minced lean lamb
2 tbsp tomato purée
1 tbsp sugar
1–2 tsp Pul Biber (Aleppo Chili or Black Urfa Chilli)
1 tsp dried mint
1–2 tsp ground sumac
A bunch of fresh flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt and ground black pepper
Make the dough. Put the yeast and sugar into a small bowl with half the lukewarm water. Set aside for about 15 minutes until frothy. Sift the flour and salt into a large bowl, make a well in the middle and add the creamed yeast and the rest of the water. Using your hand, draw in the flour and work to a dough, adding more water if necessary.
Turn the dough on to a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic. Drip a few drops of sunflower oil into the base of the bowl and roll the dough in it. Cover with a damp dish towel and leave in a warm place for about 1 hour or until the dough has doubled in size.
Meanwhile, heat the oil and in a heavy pan and gently fry the onion and garlic until they soften. Leave to cool in the pan.
Put the lamb in a bowl, add the tomato purée, sugar, Pul Biber (Aleppo Chilli and/or Black Urfa Chilli) and mint, then the softened onion and garlic. Season with salt and pepper, and knead with your hands. Cover and keep in the refrigerator until you are ready to assemble the lahmacun.
Place two baking sheets in the oven, and preheat to 220°C/425°F/ Gas 7. Punch down the risen dough, knead it on a lightly floured surface, then divide into two or four equal pieces. Roll each piece into a thin flat round, stretching the dough with your hands as you roll.
Oil the hot baking sheets and place the dough rounds on them, then cover with a thin layer of the meat mixture, spreading it right to the edges. Bake in the oven for 15–20 minutes, until the meat is nicely cooked.
As soon as the lahmacun are ready, sprinkle them with the sumac and parsley. Squeeze a little lemon juice over the top. Roll them up while the dough is still pliable, or eat like a pizza – with your hands, or on plates with a knife and fork.
Recipe taken from The Turkish Cookbook by Ghillie Besan
It’s widely-acknowledged that turmeric is steeped in health-giving properties, but it’s not always an easy spice to cook with. Poor quality turmeric can be astringent