12 January 2008


Last year, I briefly got a glimpse of a couple of episodes of Rick Stein's new show Mediterranean Escapes. They were a very nice surprise to me, he's normally so into fish and I'm so not. But here he's picked out some specialities that seemed quite tasty. Well, it did help that I caught the episode in Turkey.

And I was playing with the thought of buying the book. Luckily I didn't because I got it for Christmas.

Tonight I made the Lahmacun and I've no idea how to pronounce it. It's a Turkish light meal consisting of spicy minced lamb on flatbread.

Once again I had to make some changes to his recipe - I didn't have the special Aleppo pepper and didn't have the recommended substitute Cayenne, so I used my treasured hot Hungarian paprika instead. It's not as hot, but adds a nice flavour. Also I trebled it, to be on the safe side.

I was also surprised that plain flour should be used for the dough, its gluten content is normally not very good and it tends not to rise, but this was precisely the point. And it did swell enormously during the rising period.

I think I used too small pieces of the dough for the flat breads and too much mince on each, so I only got 8 when the recipe was for 12. But I rolled the left over dough with my knobbly pin and got 6 pita-like soft flat breads in addition. Will see how they hold, this may be a solution to my long search for a recipe for Swedish soft flat bread, just need to add some spices.

I used up quite a lot of flour in the kneading and rolling, should be less generous with that in the future. Certainly there's no need for flour on the baking sheets, they are non-stick.

The mince mixture was difficult to spread on the breads, very messy. Might be an idea next time to do all the flat breads, before starting to bake them, rather than just do two at a time, while the previous lot is baking. I just about made it, but it was stressful.

Finally we forgot the lemon juice in the end, only had parsley, but it was very tasty indeed. Lundulph had 2 and I had one, the remaining 5 I'll freeze, I don't see why this wouldn't work.

On the whole, these are very close to what is called Princess toast in Bulgaria (принцеса), where a minced meat mixture is spread on a slice of bread and it's baked under a hot grill for a few minutes. I tried to do that after we'd been to Bulgaria, since Lundulph really liked it, but didn't succeed with beef mince, which we normally use. But this mixture with lamb mince might work here too, and it'll speed things up significantly too. I think it's because the lamb meat is a finer mince than the beef, not sure the reason for this. I'd rather use beef and will have to check with the butcher if they can do a finer mince with beef for me.

In between things, I also made Turkish red pepper paste in preparation of another Rick Stein recipe from the Mediterranean book - Imam Bayildi, which is a dish popular also in Bulgaria - имам баялда. So I bought 6 Romano peppers - those fancy long bright red ones - specifically and also some fat red chillies from Waitrose. I blended them along with some sugar, salt, olive oil and water, then simmered in a pan for an hour until reduced to a thick paste. When I tasted it, it was way too hot to eat as is, but the flavour was precisely what Bulgarians call lyutenitza (лютеница). Which is really great, I'd asked my Mum for a recipe, but she didn't have one and reckoned it's too much trouble to make at home, easier to buy (if you're in Bulgaria or have access to a good Turkish shop). Traditionally in Bulgaria, lyutenitza is used as a spread, instead of butter. And despite the name meaning something spicy hot, it's not always that. In any case, I won't be putting in 3 big chillies with seeds and all when I make it for a spread. I'll also try using regular bell peppers, the Romano peppers are a bit pricey for larger amounts. Out of the amount I made (the chopped peppers and chillies filled the blender to the brim), I ended up with about 1.5 dl of paste. Rick Stein says it's called aci biber salcasi and it uses sun dried ingredients, I'll look out for it on my next run to the Turkish shop.


Diana said...

Zdravei (hello) !

I just discovered your blog and like the recipes a lot.

This dish is traditional Armenian (as well as Turkish I guess). Here in the Washington DC area it's pretty expensive to buy frozen Lahmadjun in the stores, so thank you very much for posting this, I'll try to make it very soon.

Caramella Mou said...

Zdravej Diana!

How nice of you to drop by. The Lahmadjun recipe is from a book, so it didn't feel right to publish it.

I had no idea that they originate from Armenia.

I'm glad you like the recipes, I do enjoy cooking.