We prefer to eat them as we did on the street in Istanbul: rolled up in paper, like a gyro sandwich, and munched out of the hands
1 recipe alternate pizza dough
for the topping
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound finely ground lean lamb
6 tomatoes, peeled, seeded, minced, and drained
1 medium onion, minced
1 large red bell pepper, trimmed, seeded, and minced
1/4 cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
3 tablespoons tomato puree
1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses (optional)
1 teaspoon crushed hot red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon cornmeal for sprinkling the baking sheet
for the garnish
6 medium tomatoes, thinly sliced
1 large onion, thinly sliced
3/4 cup coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide it equally into 6 pieces. Roll each piece into a ball with your hands and let stand, covered with a towel, in a warm place for 30 minutes.
2. Make the topping: Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over moderate heat until hot but not smoking, add lamb, and cook, stirring, just until it begins to brown. Add the remaining ingredients for the topping, and cook over low heat, stirring, until the liquid has practically disappeared, about 5 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning.
3. Place a large, heavy baking sheet in the oven, and heat at 550 degrees for at least 20 minutes.
4. Roll each ball of dough into a 1/16 inch thick circle (about 7 inches in diameter) with a rolling pin. Place about 2 tablespoons of cooked topping on each circle, spreading the mixture to the edge of the rim.
5. Sprinkle the baking sheet with cornmeal, place lahmajun on the baking sheet, and cook for 4 to 6 minutes (the lahmajun should be cooked through but still stay soft and white).
6. Remove from oven and garnish each one with tomatoes, onion, and parsley. Carefully roll the lahmajun, wrapping wax paper or foil around one end of each one so they can be eaten out of the hand. Serve immediately.
Note: You can improvise something like the Istanbul original without making your own dough. Simply purchase large, soft flour tortillas, steam them, spread the lamb filling across them, add the garnishes, roll, and serve.
These pizza-like treats are popular in Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, and Israel (they have many different spellings: lahmacun, lachmanjan, lachma bi ajun, and more). They are essentially flatbreads on which a spicy lamb and tomato topping is baked. In Turkey, the underlying flatbread is called pide, which sounds something like pizza. Throughout the Middle East, they are served pizza-style -- that is, as open-faced pies. But we prefer to eat them as we did on the street in Istanbul: rolled up in paper, like a gyro sandwich, and munched out of the hands. Makes 6 individual rolls