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What Is Lahmacun?

By Angie Bates
Updated May 16, 2024
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Lahmacun is a pizza-like dish popular in many Middle Eastern countries. Lahmacun is composed of a thin, round dough base which is topped with a mixture of vegetables, minced meat, and, sometimes, sauce. Although they can be cooked on baking stones in brick ovens like professional pizzas, lahmacuns can easily be made in conventional ovens as well.

Lahmacun dough is made from dry active yeast, flour, and, usually, sugar. The yeast, and sometimes the sugar, is combined with warm water. Once the mixture is bubbly, the flour is added and dough is created. The dough is kneaded into a smooth, elastic ball, then coated lightly in oil, covered, and allowed to rise. When the dough has doubled in size, it is punched down and then cut into pieces no smaller than a baseball.

The cut pieces are formed into balls, covered, and allowed to rise again. After the second, shorter, rising. The balls are rolled into thin discs. The actual size of the lahmacuns vary, but they are always single serving size, generally similar to a tortilla. In fact, flour tortillas can be used as a substitute for the dough.

While the dough balls are rising, the topping ingredients can be mixed together. The topping consists of minced or ground beef and lamb. Onion, garlic, and chili peppers are usually included. Fresh parsley and mint, as well as tomato, are generally added. Spicier versions may include paprika, jalapeños, and cumin.

The herbs and vegetables are all either minced and combined with the rest of the ingredients in a bowl or chopped and combined with everything else in a food processor. Usually, the onion and garlic are sauteed in butter before being mixed in with the rest of the ingredients. If used, the food processor should not be allowed to run so long that a paste begins to form, only to thoroughly combined and mince the ingredients.

Once combined, the mixture is spread onto the waiting dough. Like a pizza, the edges of the dough should remain bare. Afterward, the lahmacun is baked. When done, it can be eaten flat or rolled into a cylinder. Often, they are stuffed with fresh parsley and onions when rolled. Lemon juice is frequently squeezed over the top of the finished lahmacun.

Lahmacuns can also be made without meat. These versions consist of Turkish or feta cheese, eggs, butter, and parsley. Other fillings, such as green pepper, or tomato paste for a saucier topping, may be included in the meat or non-meat versions.

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