The ‘Turkish pizza’ recipe that’s exotic, simple and delicious

Jason Goodwin, author of the Yashim detective books, shares a recipe from his new book.

Jason Goodwin’s best-selling novels about his Istanbul-based detective have always been famous for their mouthwatering descriptions of food.

So after several requests from fans, Jason decided to write a cookbook inspired by the series – and by his quarter of a century of travel around Turkey.

This recipe is for lahmacun, a Turkish flatbread made with minced lamb, tomato and spices, and commonly referred to as ‘Turkish pizza’

(Video music: ‘Yashim, the investigator’ by kind permission of the Bookshop Band)

Lahmacun (aka Turkish pizza)

Flatbread ingredients

  • 1tsp dried yeast
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 150ml warm water
  • 350g strong flour

Topping ingredients

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2tbsp pomegranate molasses
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed and chopped with salt
  • 1 grated onion
  • 250g minced lamb
  • 2tsp kirmizi biber
  • 2tsp chopped fresh mint (or 1tsp dried)
  • 1 onion sliced into rings
  • 1 tomato sliced into rings
  • 1tsp sumac
  • chopped parsely
  • 1 lemon
  • salt


  • Start with the dough. Kickstart the yeast by mixing the sugar in warm water and leaving for 10 minutes or so until it froths. Put the flour, salt and yeast in a mixing bowl and mix in the water and sugar, and work it into a ball before working it for five or ten minutes until smooth and springy. Leave in a warm place, covered with a damp cloth, for around an hour.
  • For the topping, mix the first seven ingredients together and leave it in the fridge if need be.
  • After an hour the dough should have doubled in size. Knead it briefly on a floured board, then divide it up and roll into flatbread circles.
  • Spread a thin layer of topping on each flatbread, and top with the onion and tomato rings.
  • Given them a little drizzle of oil and pop them in the oven at 220c as quickly as you can to stop the heat escaping.
  • Check after 20 minutes to make sure the meat is cooked, then remove, sprinkle with parsley and sumac and given them a squeeze of lemon before sharing them round.

Yashim cooks Istanbul by Jason Goodwin is published by Argnoaut, rrp £25