Lahmachun

When Janice and I were in Bulgaria we stayed with a Turkish guy who introduced us to his favourite Turkish food from back home. We got a ton of advice on what to eat when we were in Turkey (especially useful seeing as Turkey was our next destination!) The number one recommendation was Lahmachun which is sort of like a Turkish version of pizza. Its comprised of crispy thin dough and topped with a ground meat and spice mixture. Its served with a plate of fresh vegetables and you roll the lahmachun around the vegetables and eat it sort of like an open-ended tortilla. Its generally served as an appetizer in Turkey and Janice and I must have eaten it with almost every meal! Our friend in Bulgaria gave me a recipe for trying at home and here it is! (The pomegranate seeds were my addition, just something I had lying around!)

Dough:

• 1 tsp dry active yeast
• ½ tsp sugar
• 1 ½ cup of warm water
• 4 ½ cups of flour
• Olive oil

Topping:

• 12 oz of minced lamb
• 1 large onion, minced
• 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
• 2 Tbsp of butter
• 1 bunch curly parsley, chopped
• 1 cup of fresh mint, chopped
• 2 tomatoes, diced
• 1/3 cup pomegranate seeds
• 1 tsp of chili pepper or 1-2 red chilies, minced
• 1 tsp paprika
• 1 tsp of cumin
• salt
• Juice of 1 lemon

Directions for the dough:

In a small bowl mix yeast and the sugar. Add 1/2 cup of warm water, stir well. Cover and let proof for about 15 minutes.
In a large bowl combine the remaining water, flour and the yeast mixture. Mix until it comes together and then kneed it into a soft, springy dough. Put about a tablespoon of oil in the bottom of the large clean bowl and add the ball of dough, flip to coat, cover with damp cloth and leave it to rise in a warm place. In about an hour the dough should have doubled in size.

After the dough has doubled, deflate it and cut into 10-12 pieces on a floured surface. Roll each into a ball and cover with a damp cloth and let it stand until your topping is ready (around half an hour). Preheat the oven to 420 F.

Directions for the topping:

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the butter. Once melted add the onion and garlic and saute for about 1 minute. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 2 more minutes. Take the skillet off the burner and cool the onion mixture. Add the onion mixture to the ground lamb and the rest of the topping ingredients and mix well.

Take one ball of dough and roll into a round, flat circle about 5 mm thick.
Sprinkle some olive oil will work on a couple baking sheets and place rolled dough on the sheet. Brush dough with some olive oil and top up with 2 Tbsp of the ready topping. Spread the topping evenly and very thinly.

Bake, rotating trays part way through once the top tray begins to look a little crispy. I found they took about 7 minutes, but keep a careful eye out! Because the oven door is opened a lot during this process the ideal oven temperature is about 370F. When done the Lahmacuns are crispy at the ends and softer in the middle. Take them off the baking sheet to a wider container and cover with a towel until you are done. (Or eat them crispy!) Humidity under the towel will soften Lahmacuns, making it very easy for you to roll them around fresh ingredients. I like Lahmacuns rolled around onions, parsley, lettuce, more fresh tomato or cucumber and lemon juice. (But I got too excited to eat at this stage and forgot to take a photo!)

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