Lahmacun 

 

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Yummy Lahmacun ,ready to eat

Ah ! the wonder that is Turkish food ! Pide, Dolma, Lokum , Baklava … we just can’t get enough. Having woken up with a Turkish food craving this morning , and with no reliable Turkish restaurants around , we decided to go ahead make some homemade Lahmacun.

Lahmacun is a Turkish flatbread traditionally topped with minced meat. It’s often compared to pizza but to us it actually tastes quite different and the making of the dough also utilises different techniques.

The first few times we tried it we faced a few issues ; soggy dough , meat that kept sliding off the bread , dough that rose too much and so on …so after some trial and error and with our now full, happy tummies , we’re sharing this recipe with you. This recipe is somewhat modified from Rebecca Seals’ Istanbul , with some ideas from Yotum Ottolenghi and Claudia Roden and some of our own tips on getting your Lahmacun just right. It’s a wee bit laborious but worth the effort!

Lahmacun 

Makes 4   Prep time : 30 mins   Resting time : at least 1hr 15 mins  Cooking time : 10-15 mins

Ingredients 

The Dough

1 tablespoon active dry yeast

350 ml lukewarm water

1 tablespoon sugar

2 tablespoons olive oil

500g bread flour

2 teaspoons salt

The Topping

450g minced lamb or beef

1/4 tsp cumin seeds

1/4 tsp coriander seeds

1 teaspoon sumac

1/2 large onion, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 large tomato (skinned, seeded and finely chopped)

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoon tomato puree

Bunch of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped

1/2 teaspoon red chilli flakes or harissa paste

2 tablespoons lemon juice

Salt & Pepper to taste

Additional ingredients

3 tablespoons tahini or 1 egg beaten

25g pine nuts

Parsley to garnish

Lemon slices to garnish

Method

Mix  the yeast, water, sugar & olive oil in a jug or bowl . Stir through with a fork and allow to rest for 15 minutes until it forms a thick , foamy top. Meanwhile, mix the flour and salt in a large bowl. Once the yeast has been proofed, pour it little at a time into the flour mixture , stirring as you pour. You should get a doughy mass.

Transfer the dough to your kneading surface and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 10-15 minutes. Oil a large bowl, place the dough inside and cover it with clingfilm. 

Place the dough in a warm place to let it rise. It should take about an hour or a little more. To test if the dough is ready, make sure it’s a least double its original size and forms a dent when you press on it with your finger. 

If the weather is cold, place your dough near a warmed oven to help it rise. You want a warm environment , but not too warm – the dough needs a slow rise to maintain its flavour. 

Preheat your oven to its highest setting  If you have a small oven, you will have to bake the lahmacun one at a time. Brush oil over your baking trays or pizza stones and keep them aside. 

We like to use a round pizza tray to when we spread out the dough , so it gets a nice round shape.

While the dough is resting, make the topping.Dry roast the cumin & coriander seeds. You know they are ready when they start to release their fragrant scent. Grind the seeds in a pestle and mortar.  

If you don’t have  a pestle & mortar, a handy trick is to place them on a flat surface atop some cling film, then use a rolling pin to press hard and roll over the seeds so they get crushed).

Place the seeds and all other ingredients into a bowl and use your hands to mix them together well until it forms a paste.

It’s really important that the mixture is paste like so its easier to spread. Also make sure that your tomatoes are properly deseeded. If you are using particularly moist tomatoes, squeeze the excess water out of them. This will help to ensure that the water from the tomatoes doesn’t seep through your dough while cooking, making it soggy.

When your dough is ready, knock it back by placing it on your kneading surface and kneading the air out of it , about 5 minutes. Then divide in into four equal portions. Roll out each piece of dough with a rolling pin into 30 cm (about 11 inches) rounds. Place the rolled out dough on your oiled baking tray or pizza stone. 

 If like us, you have trouble getting perfect rounds, roll out the dough halfway with the rolling pin, then place it on a round pizza tray and spread it out with your fingers until the dough reaches the tray all around. This will help to get it round and prevent it from losing its shape as it bakes.

Now you can either spread a thin layer of tahini on the surface of the rolled out dough or egg wash it – this will help the topping to stick to the dough. Then spread a quarter of the topping over the dough , spreading it out evenly almost to the edges, leaving just a thin crust. Use the back of a spoon to spread the topping and press it well into the dough. 

Sprinkle the pine nuts over it and bake for 10-12 minutes  or until the crust golden and the meat is cooked and bubbling. 

Top with parsley and serve with lemon wedges. 

Craving satisfied!

x Anu & Suba

 

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