It’s been just about a year since we traveled to Turkey, and we haven’t stopped thinking about the food there. It’s among one of my favorite places we’ve traveled.
One of the dishes we ate quite often in Turkey is lahmacun – kind of like pizza, but not really since there’s no sauce or cheese. It’s yeasted flatbread, topped with a flavorful mixture of ground meat, vegetables, herbs and spices, then baked for just a few minutes so the meat mixture is cooked. The dough is still pliable and isn’t crisp.
Closer to pizza is Turkish pide, which looks a lot like lahmacun but I believe the meat mixture is a bit different and there’s cheese involved. We ate a lot of that, too.
Our favorite meal of the entire trip was a lunch we ate en route from the coast to Cappadiocia, at Bilge Pide Kebap Salonu, on the outskirts of Isparta. We were driving and hungry, and picked a place at random. They didn’t speak English, and there were just a few locals having a meal (all men). They stared at us.
We’d been in Turkey long enough to be able to decode a menu fairly well, and could speak a few phrases. We ordered adana kebab and ground beef pide and knunefe. It came to about $6, and included a number of side dishes – shepherd salad, flatbread, pickles. Everything was delicious. The kunefe was outstanding – melty and buttery and topped with clotted cream.
We still talk about that meal, so I’ve been working on perfecting my kunefe (getting close), and I decided to tackle lahmacun as well. It’s pretty easy. The dough is lovely to work with (I used fresh yeast, but instant will work just fine), and the lamb topping is mixed with onion, tomato and parsley that gets a whir in the food processor. I had some lemony labneh in the fridge, and it was perfect on top of the bread. Larry was surprised I was eating lamb (I usually don’t like it), but I ate a lot of it in Turkey, and it didn’t seem right to make lahmacun with anything else.
My kunefe is improving. I’ve been tweaking and am moving towards my own recipe. I even found Turkish cheese. Flavor is great, but the I need to work on the cooking method.
Larry said the meal reminded him of that lunch in Turkey. Mission accomplished.