The Turkish Pizza
Pizza is a popular type of food that is sold all over Turkey. From the tourist coastal areas to the large cities to the rural areas, the pizza is a food item that is available everywhere. Turkish pizza consists of the typical ham and pineapple, cheese and tomato, spicy meat and vegetarian flavours that are available all over the western world, however this is not the traditional Turkish Pizza.
Traditional Turkish pizza is called Lahmacun by the Turkish people and is very different to the pizza available in the Western world. Turkish pizza is a savoury flatbread and whilst it can be bought in the shape of a Western world pizza, i.e. round, it is normally sold rolled up and wrapped in a little slip of paper, and eaten whilst standing at the shop counter or kiosk from where it was purchased.
The base of a traditional Turkish pizza is made using a standard pizza dough base, i.e. one that consists of flour, water and yeast, which are the same ingredients as the Western world pizza. The traditional Turkish pizza base is not made out of my chapati recipe. The traditional Turkish pizza base is thin, however unlike the base of a Western world pizza it is not at all crispy as a crispy base would make it impossible to roll up a traditional Turkish pizza. A traditional Turkish pizza base is greasy and malleable hence it can be rolled up.
There are many flavours, ingredients and toppings on Western world pizzas however this is not the case with the traditional Turkish pizza. The traditional Turkish pizza has a single topping flavour and that is meat. The topping of a traditional Turkish pizza consists of minced lamb, onion, parsley and salt, and that is it. Western world pizzas need some kind of sauce on the pizza base, be it tomato puree, BBQ sauce or whatever else, however this is not the case with the traditional Turkish pizza as this requires no sauce. The lamb used on the traditional Turkish pizza has a high fat content and this is soaked up by the Turkish pizza base whilst it is cooking.
Minced lamb - the primary ingredient of the traditional Turkish pizza.
All Turkish restaurants, cafes and eateries that sell pizza will sell the traditional Turkish pizza. Compared to the Western world style pizzas traditional Turkish pizzas are the same size but much cheaper which makes them excellent value for money. As an example, I recently went to Dalyan and in a restaurant where Western world pizzas were selling for 12 Turkish Lira to 18 Turkish Lira (about £4.30 to £6.45) the traditional Turkish pizza was selling for 3 Turkish Lira (about £1.10). Traditional Turkish pizzas are very tasty, although they are a little greasy, and I would highly recommend them. When I go abroad I like to soak up the culture, which means eating like the locals do. I can buy Western world pizzas at home but I can’t buy traditional Turkish pizzas at home therefore when faced with a pizza meal on vacation I opted for the traditional Turkish pizza every time.
Turkish Lira. If you are in Turkey you are going to need some of these to buy your traditional Turkish pizza, however you won't need as many as if you were going to buy a Western world pizza.
Traditional Turkish pizzas consist of few ingredients that are readily available and as such, are very easy to make at home. It is difficult to replicate the taste of most Turkish food at home however this is not the case with the traditional Turkish pizza. The Turkish pizza I make at home tastes almost identical as the Turkish pizza I bought whilst on vacation.
The traditional Turkish pizza is very easy to make, although it does take a bit of time and the first step needs to be done the day before you make the Turkish pizza. First off you need to mix a desert spoon of yeast with a desert spoon of sugar and a glass of tepid water and leave overnight, ensuring it is not left in a cold place. When making the Turkish pizza dough you will need three glasses of flour, three glasses of water and half a teaspoon of salt. All the ingredients need to be put in a mixing bowl and before adding the yeast/sugar and water mixture made the day before. The whole lot is then kneaded in to a dough and left to chill in the fridge for at least half an hour.
For the Turkish pizza topping you will need two hundred and fifty grams of minced lamb, one large onion (finely chopped) and half a bunch of parsley. You can also add some mixed herbs or some thyme, although I don’t think this is really needed. Making the topping is easy and simply involves putting all the ingredients in to a bowl and mixing thoroughly. To make sure the ingredients are adequately mixed I use my hands (ensuring they are clean of course) and squeeze everything through my fingers. Using your hands to mix the Turkish pizza creates a ‘slop’ and whilst it may not look very appetising it is exceptionally tasty.
The next step is to roll out the Turkish pizza dough and lightly cover it with the Turkish pizza topping before cooking. To cover the Turkish pizza base take a pallet knife, dip in the Turkish pizza topping and smear it over the base like you would smear some butter on a piece of toast. It is important to apply a thin and even coat of the Turkish pizza topping all over the base to ensure it all cooks evenly.
The traditional Turkish pizza is cooked in an open fire oven in Turkey, however since most of us don’t have these in our home the alternative is to cook in a conventional oven at a moderate heat, such as one hundred and eighty degrees for around ten minutes or until the Turkish pizza topping starts to gently sizzle. Once the Turkish pizza is cooked it can either be eaten as a Western world pizza, i.e. simply cut up, or it can be eaten the Turkish way and rolled up.
The traditional Turkish pizza. It may look a bit bland and tasteless, however it is a delicious snack and one well worth buying (if oyu are lucky enough to be in Turkey that is) or making (if oyu are at home).
If you like lamb, don’t mind greasy food and like pizza the traditional Turkish pizza is a tasty alternative to a Western world pizza. If you are on vacation in Turkey and looking for a quick, tasty and very cheap snack I highly recommend the traditional Turkish pizza.