The Little-Known Spicy Turkish Flatbread You Need To Try

If there's one thing the whole world can agree on, it's the universal love for bread in all shapes, sizes, and forms. And when it comes to flatbread — unleavened bread made without yeast — just about every country has a version it calls its own. Mexico has corn and flour tortillas, India has naans and rotis, Armenia has the lavash, and Italy has its focaccia (via Taste Atlas). Similarly, Turkey has the famous pide. But that's not the only flatbread that Turkey enjoys. There's another lesser-known flatbread famous in the country: lahmacun.

Pronounced as lah-mah-juhn, lahmacun gets its name from the words "lahm" and "macun," Arabic for "meat" and "paste," respectively (via Dishes Origins). Often eaten as street food or as a lunchtime snack, the flatbread is typically made by rolling out a thin semolina dough, topping it with a spicy meat paste, and giving it a quick flash of heat in a brick oven. According to Taste Atlas, the meat topping can be either beef or lamb, but it is almost always ground into a spicy paste with the help of vegetables, chilies, onions, and all sorts of spices.

Is lahmacun the Turkish version of a pizza?

Rolled-out dough, meaty toppings, a bake in the oven — it sounds all too familiar. Indeed, lahmacun is often referred to as Turkish pizza, but The Spruce Eats points out one important distinction: Unlike a pizza, there's no bubbling cheese on top. However, several people find this comparison to be absurd.

According to the blog Eating Asia, several restaurants outside Turkey offer lahmacun on their menus under the guise of "Turkish pizza." But some of these restaurants don't just change the name. These "pizzas" often replace the thin lahmacun dough for a thicker pizza-like crust, the light ground meat paste with a chunky meat-based sauce, and sometimes, even come with cheese — none of which are typical of a traditional Turkish lahmacun. Taste Atlas also points out that the semolina dough used to make lahmacun is drier and sturdier than pizza dough, which is what makes this flatbread bake up more crisply than your typical pizza.

In addition to all that, lahmacun is eaten in an entirely different way than a pizza. The Turkish flatbread is often rolled up into a burrito of sorts alongside crisp onions and piyaz, a salad made from parsley (via Taste Atlas). Best eaten hot from the oven with a splash of lemon juice on top, the spicy flatbread is finished off with a chilled drink called ayran made using yogurt and salt. Alternatively, lahmacun can also be served with a bright red-colored fermented drink known as salgam suyu made from turnips and red carrots.