Lahmacun (لحم عجين) or “Turkish/Armenian Pizza” is a yeasted Turkish flatbread spread with a thin layer of ground meat/vegetables. Unlike its Italian counterpart, it doesn’t use any cheese. But it does include a selection of fresh toppings which can include: salad, tomatoes, yogurt, roasted eggplant, pickles – giving it a much cleaner, Mediterranean flair. This dish can be found almost everywhere on the busy streets of Jerusalem, Syria, Lebanon, Turkey just as common as hotdogs in New York or egg waffles in Hong Kong. In fact, Lahmacun dates back to thousands of years ago. Being able to enjoy this delicious, warm-baked Turkish pizza allows you to take a glimpse of Turkish history. I have to say it must be pretty fabulous if it has been passed down generations and perfected over time.
Have you ever had those moments when you watched a cooking show and you just can’t help but fall in love with that dish? That was what happened to the both of us when we watched SortedFood’s Lahmacun…it was love at first sight. And when the two of you have the same inkling feeling you know that IT MUST BE REALLY GOOD!
That happiness only lasted for a few moments before we realized there was no Paleo, dairy free version of Lahmacun! We searched all over google to no avail only to find pre-made mixes. WE wanted this to be easy, wholesome and accessible. To our dismay, there was even 1 blog that even had the words “I’m sorry there is no gluten free lahmacun” written on their blog!
Did that mean I would never be able to eat it?
I guess there really is only one option – we Just have to work out creative juices and make our own! This then led to hours spent on watching youtube videos, researching on Google Traditional Turkish streetfood – so we could replicate the exact texture/look/flavour. Even if that meant watching random videos of people Enjoying lahmacun just to study what Lahmacun was like.
Next step we had to find a good base. We have made quite a few pizzas but none were like the texture that it looked like in the videos. After spending weeks and days of searching for the perfect paleo tortilla recipe, I think Zoe and I have nailed it. We’ve failed multiple times, but the journey was worth it.
And now I am so excited to present to you: Sprinkle of Vanilla Sugar’s Twist on Gluten Free, Paleo Lahmacun.
This version of Turkish Lahmacun is one of the easiest/fastest/cheapest methods that we discovered. When it came out of the oven all puffy and golden-brown, I was SHOCKED at how beautiful it looked. It definitely looked like the Lahmacun on the streets of the middle east. (Just look how beautiful the crust looks?)
Oh and you can even roll it up like how they usually eat it and stuff with any toppings you like. There are suggestions below!
And although I have never been to Turkey and brought one right off the streets, I must say it tasted phenomenal. Even if it doesn’t taste like the actual traditional Lahmacun, but it tasted like a really good Mediterranean pizza. From the doughy thin crust to the perfectly spiced meat it was perfect! And we decided to go one step further and make a vegetarian topping for all the vegans out there. I’m sorry we don’t have an egg-less base…maybe in the future we could get one down. But we are working on it!
Vegan Topping Version: mushroom/red bell pepper topping.
More Traditional Meat Version: Minced turkey topping – flavored with spices, herbs, lemon juice. (We opted for minced turkey instead of the traditional minced beef because we wanted to make it slightly healthier).
Oh and we made some mini ones too…aren’t they cute? These are perfect for little kids or for any summer parties…maybe even July 4th!
Ingredients – Makes approximately two 8″ pizzas
Crust – adapted from Paleoporn
- 1 cup tapioca starch
- 1/4 cup coconut flour
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
Meat Topping – adapted from Traditionalturkishcooking
- 1/4 lb turkey mince
- 2/3 cup red bell pepper, chopped
- 1/4 onion, diced
- 1/2 tbsp tomato paste (if it is unsalted, double the amount of salt)
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1/4 tsp cumin (+ more to your liking)
- 1/4 tsp Black pepper
- handful of dill/mint, chopped
Vegetarian Topping – Adapted from Coconutandberries
- 1/4 onion, diced finely
- 1/2 cup mushrooms, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup red bell pepper, finely diced
- 1/2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1/2 tomato OR 1 small Roma tomato
- 1/2 clove garlic
- 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1/4 tsp cumin
- 1/8 tsp cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp sumac (or allspice)
- 1/4 tsp salt
- few tbsp of water (optional)
- 1 tbsp chopped fresh herbs (mint and dill)
How to Make:
For the Mushroom Topping:
- Heat a pan over medium high heat. Saute onions for 5 minutes until soft and slightly brown.
- Add garlic, tomato paste, tomatoes, spices and salt. Stir and cook for a couple of minutes.
- Now, add in your mushroom and tomato. Allow this to cook over low heat for 10 minutes. You want all the flavors to mix and the vegetables to soften. If the pan looks dry, add in some water from time to time. The mushrooms should release some liquid, depending on the type you use, but if it not just add some water.
- Take the pan off from the heat and stir in the chopped herbs.
For the Meat Topping:
- Add onion, pepper, herbs and tomato to a food processor/blender. Mix until everything is well grounded. It should resemble a paste or sauce.
- In a bowl, add your spices, turkey mince, tomato paste and the ground mixture. Mix thoroughly. Set aside.
For the Crust:
- Preheat the oven to 350F.
- Whisk the eggs and milk in a bowl.
- Add the flour and whisk till smooth.
- Heat a 8″ non-stick pan over medium-high heat until very hot!!
- Measure out 2/3 -1 cup of batter and add to the pan. Swirl. Immediately turn the heat down to medium -low.
- Using a spoon, spread a thin layer mince mixture over the batter.
- Bake for 5 minutes. Broil on high for 3-4 minutes. Check to make sure it isn’t burning! (The time totally depends on your oven and your altitude)!
- Slide lahmacun out onto a plate or board to cool. Repeat steps 4-8 again with the vegetarian topping this time.
- Serve with fresh dill/mint (finely chopped), lemon wedges, coconut yogurt and pine nuts.
How to Serve:
Traditional Method: served with a fresh salad, extra sumac and lemon wedges.
Our Suggestions: Toasted pine nuts, chopped dill/mint, Cucumbers and Unsweetened Dairy-Free Yogurt.
For PARTIES/ KIDS – Mini Lahmacuns: For mini Lahmacuns, dollop a ladle full of batter in the pan. Allow it to set for 30 secs and add more batter to increase the thickness. I find that the batter will spread very thin when you first add it to the pan. So it is important you allow some of it to set to form a base/container for more batter to sit on top. This will increase height rather than size of the pancake. Bake these for a couple of minutes and broil on high for 2 minutes.
Vegan Version – Bell Pepper Substitute: you can use 1/4 cup of walnuts, chopped finely
Meat Version – Turkey Mince Substitute: traditionally beef or lamb mince is used, and so they make great substitutes. However turkey mince is lower in fat.
Smoked Paprika: you can use regular paprika if you don’t have this
Spice Substitute: Cumin is essential in this, however if you don’t have any of the other spices you can omit them. In theory, each family will have their own version of this recipe using different spices so not all of them are absolutely required.
Herb Substitutes: parsley is a great substitute and is commonly used for lahmacun
Other Pan Sizes: You have to use a non-stick pan if you don’t want to use oil. However pan sizes do vary and that is absolutely fine. Just make sure you adjust the baking time and you add enough batter to make it thick enough. For a larger pan like a 9-10″ skillet, I would suggest around 1 cup of batter!
Vegans: Use your own tortilla/pizza dough recipe. You can even use store brought eggless pizza dough. Just roll it as thin as you can, spread the topping on and bake for 5-10 minutes until cooked through. To make the crust even more brown you can broil or grill this.
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