LAHMACUN

If you’re a fan of pizza, you’re sure to love its Turkish cousin Lahmacun (LAH’-MAH’-juhn), a spicy Middle Eastern lamb pizza. It’s a super tasty, aromatically spiced blend of finely ground beef or lamb, red peppers and tomatoes spread by hand on the dough. The thickness of the dough varies from one bakery to the next. I prefer the ultra-thin slightly spicier Turkish version. Professionals eat several in a sitting with sprigs of parsley, a squeeze of lemon, rolled into a wrap and washed down with ice cold Ayran!

SERVES:

5-6

PREPARED IN:

2 hours

COOKS IN:

Less than 15 mins

DIFFICULTY:

Not too tricky

INGREDIENTS

For the dough:

500g strong white flour

170ml tepid water

2 teaspoon sugar

120g Greek-style yogurt

2 teaspoon dried yeast

2 tablespoon olive oil

2 teaspoon salt

For the lamb topping

250g shoulder of lamb, de-boned and minced

1 small onion, finely diced

2 cloves garlic, finely minced

1 tomato, finely diced

Handful flat leaf parsley, finely chopped

2 tablespoon Pomegranate molasses

1 tablespoon hot Turkish red pepper paste (Aci biber Salcasi)

½ teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon Urfa chilli flakes

1 teaspoon tomato puree

¼ teaspoon Roasted cumin

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

¼ teaspoon allspice

¼ teaspoon nutmeg

1 tsp flaked sea salt

To Garnish:

Flat leaf parsley

Wild Sumac

METHOD

In a large bowl combine the flour and salt. In a separate bowl add the sugar, yeast and the tepid water. Mix well to dissolve the sugar and yeast. Once dissolved add the remaining water, yogurt and olive oil and mix well. Add this mixture slowly to the flour until all incorporated stirring in one direction to develop the gluten. Once the dough has come together and is too stiff to stir, turn onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for 10 mins and gently form into a ball. Clean out the bowl, wipe dry and brush lightly with oil. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with cling film and leave to rise for 1.5 – 2 hours, until approximately doubled in size.

Add the tomatoes, onion, garlic, tomato paste, pepper paste, pomegranate molasses, parsley and the spices to the minced lamb and mix well, it should be moist but not watery.

When the dough has doubled in size, knock back, and turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Cut the dough into 6 evenly sized pieces and work into balls. Leave to rest, covered with a dry cloth for a further 20 mins in a warm place.

Preheat the oven to your hottest setting. Ideally 300°C. If you are using a pizza stone remember to place it in the oven before switching it on. This will allow the stone to come up to temperature slowly, and minimize the risk of it cracking.

Roll each dough ball to approximately 8 inches in diameter. Place 2 tablespoons of the lamb mixture onto the center of the dough and gently spread until you have a thin even covering of meat with a ½ inch border around the edge. Sprinkle a few pine nuts on top.

Place in the oven and bake for 4-6 mins or until the crust is lightly browned.

Serve with lemon, fresh parsley and a pinch of Aleppo pepper.

Recipe by James Walters, self-taught chef  and founder of Arabica, for the #BakeforSyria Cookbook.

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