Sometimes referred to as Turkish flatbread or pizza, but lahmacun is a dish on its own.
by LeAnn Nguyen
August 10, 2018
Dough and topping: is there a more iconic food duo? Few things can beat the simplicity of plopping your favorite meats and vegetables atop some form of bread. Pizza immediately comes to mind but there are countless versions out there on this simple, but filling recipe. In this story, we put a greater spotlight on the lahmacun. Also known as lahmajoun or ladmadjo, this Middle Eastern dish is sometimes referred to as Turkish/Lebanese/Syrican “pizza” and it might be your next favorite savory pie.
The origins of lahmacun lie somewhere in the Middle East, though the exact location of its birth is unclear. Armenia and Turkey are two likely candidates and the origin story of lahmacun is actually an occasional source of contention between the two countries, even in modern times. One theory about lahmacun’s history is that it was originally consumed by traders along the Silk Road thousands of years ago, who would have certainly valued such a portable, easily-kept meal during their long travels. This theory would help to explain the dish’s spread around the Middle East. Today, it is a popular staple in many countries including Armenia, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan, where you can find it served by street vendors throughout.
The base of a lahmacun is a thin, round disc of flatbread, slightly crispier than the dough typically used to make pizza. A generous portion of finely ground meat is thinly spread atop this base, usually lamb or beef flavored with seasonings like pepper, parsley, and paprika, and ground with tomato sauce. Vegetables like tomato and onion are also commonly incorporated into the paste-like spread. Once the pie is baked, fresh lemon juice is squeezed on top of everything to add a final zest of flavor before eating.
Given the flatness of lahmacun, it can be difficult to cut into slices as you would with pizza. Instead, it’s usually eaten folded or rolled up. Another creative way to indulge in lahmacun is to use it as a wrapping for salads or vegetables. You can’t go wrong using fresh tomatoes, onions, and cucumbers as fillings for your lahmacun wraps, but you can also try grilled eggplant. And to experience the full Turkish lahmacun experience, wash down your meal with ayran, a salted yogurt drink that’s the national beverage of Turkey.
In the Seattle area, there are a number of places you can go to enjoy freshly-baked lahmacun. Right near Pike Place Market is Miss Cafe, which has lahmacun on their menu alongside many other popular Turkish dishes. Further up north in Seattle is Cafe Turko, another Turkish eatery serving lahmacun. Man’oushe Express in Lake City Way also offers lahmacun and other Middle Eastern foods.