Lahmajun (Lahmacun)

In Turkey, lahmacun's filling is usually prepared at home and sent to a local bakery for baking. The bakery uses its own dough and the bakers bake it for a small charge. That turns out to be delicious. Also, bakery-made lahmacuns tend to be thicker and softer. It is very difficult to attain the same kind of lahmacun with the ovens available at home. My mom never bakes the lahmacun herself. She always sends it to a baker. Since, here in the states, we do not have that option, we use a home oven to bake the lahmacuns. If you are not afraid of setting the fire alarm off (believe me I've done that more than once), you can always cook them in a teflon pan on both sides. Actually, cooking them in the pan allows them to be softer around the edges. You should not bake or broil the lahmacuns too long; they need to be soft enough to be rolled off. That's the way it is eaten. A glass of ayran (a cold yogurt drink) goes well with lahmacun.

For the dough:

3 ½ cups of flour
1 package dry yeast
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 cup warm water

For the filling:

1 lb ground beef (96% lean)
1 medium peeled ripe tomato
1 medium cubanelle pepper
1 small onion
1 clove garlic
½ cup chopped parsley
1 tsp red pepper paste
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp salt
1 tsp olive oil (optional)

Preparation of the dough:

Dissolve the dry yeast in the warm water and let sit for 10 minutes. Add the salt and sugar to the flour and mix. Open a well in the flour and add the yeast. Knead for 10-15 minutes until dough is soft. Cover with a wet cloth and let rise for an hour.

Preparation of the filling:

Chop the onion, the green pepper and the peeled tomato finely and place in a deep large bowl. Add the meat and all the other ingredients and mix well for five minutes. Leave in the refrigerator for one hour.

Once the dough rises, make small balls from the dough in the size of an egg or a little larger. Sprinkle some flour on the counter and put the dough ball on the flour. Sprinkle a little flour on top of the dough ball and roll them with a roller. If the dough sticks to the roller, sprinkle some more flour. Keep rolling until the diameter of the dough is 8-10 inches wide and 3/25 inches (~3 mm) thick. If you wish, you may make the Lahmacuns thicker (which I actually prefer, but it will take longer to cook). Scoop some filling and spread on the dough with your hands. Make sure the filling is sticking to the dough so that it doesn’t fall off. Turn on your oven broiler and put the Lahmacuns in the broiler for 7-8 minutes. Enjoy with squeezing some lemon wedges on the Lahmacun.

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