Turkish flatbread topped with a delicious red pepper, garlic, and tomato meat sauce. One quick announcement before we get to today’s post: I’ve been finding it frustrating trying to follow all my favorite food blogs in one place, so I’m now using Bloglovin as my reader. So far it seems to be working out. Be sure to follow my blog with Bloglovin! — As you may remember, I studied abroad in 2011-2012 in Germany. One of the things that is great about Germany is the massive amount of Turkish food. That may sound a little odd if you don’t know anything about present-day Germany, but all you really need to know for the purposes of this story is that there are lots of Turkish immigrants in Berlin. Because of this, there are lots of Imbisse (food kiosks open at all hours) selling Turkish meals for less than €4. Though the Imbisse usually are either döner or falafel stands (or currywurst, but that’s another story entirely), there is usually a variety of different foods for sale, lahmacun or türkische Pizza being one. In my opinion, lahmacun (pronounced la-MA-june) is more versatile than döner kebab: you can order it with no toppings for a light meal, mit Salat (with salad) for a lunch, or mit Fleisch (with döner meat) for when you are starving.
Turkish food stalls aren’t just a German thing, though that is how I know them–everyone I know who has studied abroad in Europe has encountered them, and we all lament the lack of cheap Turkish food in the U.S. I’ve gone to a few Turkish restaurants and bakeries here and no döner has lived up to the Imbisse of Berlin, no gözleme have been better than the ones I ate abroad. Now, I’ve been talking all about Turkish food in Germany, but while abroad I was able to visit Turkey as well. The döner there, while similar, have a different flavor profile than those served in Germany and have different traditional toppings. The lahmacun, though, are exactly the same. However, in Turkey it seemed like it was more common for lahmacun to just be served with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice rather than with chopped cucumbers, tomatoes, and yogurt sauces. Lahmacun were harder to find in Istanbul than expected, but once located, deemed to be quite delicious. One night in Berlin after my trip to Turkey, I ordered a türkische Pizza and the man behind the counter went through the typical routine: mit Fleisch? mit Salat? mit Kräutersoße? He looked confused as I kept answering no, and then sort of smiled as I said I only wanted lemon juice. Turkish food was such a large part of my life while abroad (read: my lunch three times a week) and it’s definitely something I miss. Cooking my own, I decided, was the best way to get some Turkish deliciousness. The process for making these is akin to that for making “regular” pizza, so if you know how to do that, you’re good to go! Before we get to the recipe, I guess I should probably tell you what exactly you will be cooking. I’ve told you all about where you can find it and how it’s served, but not what lahmacun actually is. Oops. Lahmacun consists a thin dough topped with a sauce made of beef or lamb, red peppers, and onions that is flavored with garlic, paprika, parsley, cumin, and sumac. I know saying it’s wonderful doesn’t really describe the taste, but it is absolutely true and if you have never tried Turkish food, you should probably go do that.
Notes on the recipe: the original recipe was all metric, and when I did the conversions the amount of meat came to something like .88 pounds. I guess you could measure that out, but I wasn’t about to, so below I call for 1 pound. You will probably have leftovers of the meat topping, which you can freeze as is, or turn into burgers, meatballs, or fry to serve with pasta or rice. The crust on these is way crispier than what I’ve had before, but nonetheless super tasty.
Makes 8 pizzas (4-6 servings). Adapted from Kleiner Kuriositätenladen. Ingredients
Instructions For the dough: combine yeast, water, milk, and sugar in a large bowl and let sit for about five minutes allowing the yeast to bubble. Stir in flour and salt and briefly knead. Cover, set in a warm place, and let rise for one hour. After an hour, gently deflate the dough, divide into eight sections, and let rise for another twenty minutes. Preheat the oven to the highest setting (mine was 525 degrees Fahrenheit). If using a pizza stone, place it in the oven as it heats up, on the top rack in the center. Mix together all the sauce ingredients in a large bowl. Roll a section of dough into a thin oval about 8-10 inches long. Spread a thin layer of sauce on top (see photos above). Place in the oven and cook until crust is lightly browned. If using a pizza stone, you can prepare the pizzas on the back of a cookie sheet that has been sprinkled with cornmeal. The cornmeal makes it easy to slide the pizza off the cookie sheet. Serve with fresh lemon wedges for squeezing and a chopped salad of cucumber, tomato, and mint!