Lahmacun is well-known Turkish food that is made from very thin dough and minced meat on top. You can consider it Turkish fast food. Most Kebab restaurants offer Lahmacun as a starter, however, I consider it as a main dish because it is so delicious, and labeling it as a starter is not fair.
There are two versions of Lahmacun. One is a thin crust and the size is as big as a plate. The other one is also thin crust, but as big as your palm and only made in the Tarsus district of Mersin city. In general, it serves with parsley, lemon, and chopped raw onions and with the Ayran and/or Şalgam as a side drink option.
The Story of Lahmacun
Lahmacun in Turkish or Lahm Bi-Ajin in Arabic has 4000 years of history. If you translate the Arabic name of this food to Turkish, it means dough with meat. Some folk rumors say it has been found in the Babylonia Kingdom. It is a popular food that you can find everywhere in Middle Eastern countries such as Syria, Iraq, Iran, and Lebanon.
We don’t have any written records about how and when it first entered Turkish or Ottoman cuisine. We only know that after it entered our cuisine, the size of it has changed. If you go to any Middle Eastern country, you will see that the classic Lahmacun is as big as your palm and they have a thickness between 0.5 cm and 1cm, however, in Turkey, the thinnest one is considered the best one. I know this because I have visited some of the border villages of Turkey.
If you want to eat a very small Lahmacun, you have to go to the Tarsus district of Mersin city in Turkey and that type is called Fındık Lahmacun or in English Nut Lahmacun. This type of Lahmacun is the common type that you can eat in any Middle Eastern country. If you want to eat normal big-size ones, you can find them at any Kebab restaurant in Turkey.
Where to eat Lahmacun?
If you want to eat Lahmacun, I suggest you go to Borsam Taşfırın in İstanbul. And for Fındık Lahmacun, I suggest you try Sofioğlu Fındık Lahmacun restaurant in Tarsus.
From the below photo; you can see the size difference between them. The recipe that I shared below belongs to the bigger size one which is Lahmacun.
- 350 g ground beef
- 1 onion finely chopped
- 1/2 cup parsley finely chopped
- 2 tomatoes finely grated
- 3 cloves garlic finely grated
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 tbsp red pepper paste
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup extra vigin olive oil
- 2 cups whole wheat flour
- 1 teaspoon dry yeast
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 cup lukewarm water
- 2 tbsp olive oil
Put the flour in a bowl and add yeast, salt and sugar. Stir olive oil with the warm water and make a pool at the center of the flour and pour the olive oil and warm water mixture to the center of the flour pool and mix them with your hand.
Knead it with your hand for some minutes until you reach non-sticky and soft dough. You can add extra little extra water or flour if you feel it necessary.
Give it a ball shape to the dough and cover it with moisturized clean cloth or towel and wait about 40 minutes.
During the it waits, you can prepare the filling by mixing all the ingredients and make sure they combine well.
Spread some flour to your counter and divide your dough into 10-12 equal pieces. Roll them very thin.
Preheat your oven to 220 C. Place the thinly rolled dough on it.
Put the filling on the dough and spread it everywhere with spoon.
Bring the heat to 230 and bake for 10 minutes.
Tip: Serve with raw onions, lemon slices and tomato slices.