Those of you who know and love Turkish food will find this flatbread familiar. You might have even thought that it is lahmucun. It does look very like it and for good reason, it was directly inspired by it. In fact I started making lahmucun and then diverted to this. That is generally how it goes in my kitchen.
I love lahmucun, a wonderful very thin Turkish flatbread covered with spiced meat, usually lamb, and baked until crisp. I used to live near Green Lanes in London for a few years, a 7 mile strip of street that is packed with Turkish restaurants. If you want to explore proper Turkish food culture, and you want Londons best kebabs, this is the part of London you should head to (Dalston also). Are you still here?
When I would head out to do my groceries, I would often indulge in a lahmucun. £1.30 was the princely sum for a takeaway one from one of my favourites there, Antepliler. I would stand at the till and watch while they would fill it with salad and roll it, wrapped in paper. They were divine. Manti also in a little Turkish cafe neary, those gorgeous tiny Turkish filled pasta served with yogurt. Before fermentation was a thing – what I mean is before Hackney discovered it – I found wild garlic kefir there, fermented vegetable drinks, and all sorts of other things. Treat yourself if you are in London and go explore. Make sure you pop into Yasar Halim when you do, a terrific local Turkish grocers and bakery, as well as Antepliler.
So, yes, I should definitely share a proper lahmucun recipe with you. For now, lets start right here with this delicious twist on it. I like things to be a little different and unexpected even when they look familiar. I blister the aubergine over the gas flame on my cooker first to get that gorgeous smoke flavour that you get in moutabal / baba ghanoush. While I am doing that, I crisp the chicken skin in a dry frying pan (you can do this in the oven too). Then I combine them with red pepper, some red onion which I grated so that it would blend in gifting a little sweetness and sharpness as it did, some spice in the form of Korean chilli (gochugaru) and sumac and some fresh coriander. I finish it all of with a little extra crisp chicken skin and some fresh coriander on top.
Why chicken skin? Well if you need to ask, I have to insist that you immediately crisp some up and taste it. It is the near perfect food. My first cookbook had a recipe for chicken skin skewers, just chicken skin cooked until crisp with some sea salt, a little five spice and chilli. With the layer of chicken fat you get a really deep rich flavour, and then the texture of the crisp skin along with the flavour of that also, combined with the smoky aubergine and other ingredients it is an absolute winner.
You have to make this.
Note on the recipe: this will make more dough than you need but you can use it for pizza, shape it as bread, or freeze it. It freezes particularly well rolled out and stored between greaseproof paper sheets. Stack them and wrap them in clingfilm to finish. Moisture is the enemy of all food in the freezer so make sure none can get in.
- 450g strong flour
- 10g dried yeast
- 300ml just warm water
- 25ml extra virgin olive oil
- a generous pinch of sea salt
- 1 aubergine
- 1 red bell pepper, seeds and stem removed
- half a red onion, peeled and grated or very finely chopped
- 1 tbsp sumac
- 1 tbsp Korean chilli (gochugaru)
- chicken skin from 3 chicken thighs or 2 chicken breasts (you can pull it off with your fingers)
- fresh coriander, a handful
- chicken skin from 1 chicken thigh (or 1 breast - you won't regret extra chicken skin)
- fresh coriander
- sea salt
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