TRAVEL TURKEY

Has Urfa Lahmacun, Istanbul

April 29, 2014

Has Urfa Lahmacun, Istanbul

Istanbul is a vast, sprawling city. Everywhere you go, something is happening. It can be quite overwhelming at first. There are about 14 million people milling about over 2 continents. Fourteen million. There are also a lot of cats. Joy! I always knew Istanbul was going to be my city. I wanted to pet and chin tickle every one of them, but, well, rabies. Every corner you turn, something is happening. No nook, gap, rooftop or cupboard is left unfilled, and if a space is up for grabs, someone will more than likely sell try to sell something from it. Vegetables, shoes, börek, Turkish delight, sheeshas, plates, kebabs, chestnuts, bread, kittens, chicks, junk, socks, watermelon, simit, fish, tea, anything, basically.

On a side street off a relatively un-touristy stretch, Kasimi Keve has claimed his space and built a lahmacun (la-ma-jun) restaurant in it. It is really no more than a counter top, an oven, a titchy counter at the back and 3 tables outside. He is immensely proud of his lamacun, and so he should be. During the 6 days I was in Istanbul, I obviously couldn’t  try every lahmacun on offer (even I have limits), but if anyone is making it better than Kasimi, I’d like to hear about it, and then I probably wouldn’t believe you anyway.

Kasimi’s lahmacun are lighter than others I’ve had; the dough rolled impossibly thin, then crisped, bubbled and spot-charred in the searing heat of the oven. Lesser examples can be doughy, which is perhaps what led to the nickname ‘Turkish pizza’. Pretty sure I’ve been guilty of saying that at some point, actually. The dough of a lahmacun is spread thinly with spiced, minced lamb, and every seller has their own blend; Kasimi’s had us excited because the spicing was so deft as to just enhance the sweetness of the meat (a very light touch of cinnamon?), yet it was also rich and complex. He gave us some of the spices to take away, but only after we promised not to tell anyone his secrets. I wouldn’t. Ever. I’m a writer but I’m also a cook, remember. I’ll just say then that there’s some of the famous Turkish red pepper paste, so terrifyingly red it looks like it could stain a t-shirt at 30 paces, Turkish biber flakes, roasted to deep maroon, and a spice blend of top secret components, which reminded me a little but not entirely of garam masala.

Pide and Lahmacun

Pide is also available but for me, it’s all about that lahmacun

Lahmacun

Lahmacun

Lahmacun

Each lahmacun arrives with a plate of salad, herbs glistening with water droplets from a recent wash, tomatoes ripe and inviting. He does roasted chillies too. Get them if you go. You top your bread with salad and chillies, tinkle with lemon juice and roll it all up. The eating is over in moments. That means it’s time to order another.

While we wait for our lahmacun to be prepped, we get chatting to a Turkish lady who says she lives in Holland, but always makes Has Urfa her first port of call when in Turkey. She wise. I suggest that you do the same.

Has Urfa Lahmacun
Ragipbey Sokak
0034, Istanbul, Turkey
(over the street from Aksaray Metro, near to Yusefpasa)

This summer, Zeren Wilson and Turkish chef Huyla Erdal will host a modern Turkish pop up, on Sunday 15th June. I predict this will be worth moving your summer holiday for. Follow @londonlahmacun for more details. 

Istanbul Cats

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29 Comments

  • Reply Jess April 29, 2014 at 10:45 am

    VERY GOOD PHOTOS in this post well done. Also topping all the way to the edges. fuckin pro.

    • Helen
      Reply Helen April 29, 2014 at 10:47 am

      THANKS! Also, CATSSSSS. I have an ace vid of him making it too but it won’t upload. Balls.

  • Reply Eliza Bennet April 29, 2014 at 12:47 pm

    Great looking lahmacun (I just had one yesterday and it will give your guy a run for his money – but I live at a suburb of Istanbul so there is not a singly tourist over here to taste the awesome) Wonderful looking photos, I just want to reach out and grab a piece of pide (preferably egg and minced meat one)

    Glad to hear that you have had a nice time in Istanbul. Looking forward for other post about that.

    • Helen
      Reply Helen April 29, 2014 at 12:49 pm

      Right that’s it I HAVE to try your place next time I’m there 😉 There will definitely be more Istanbul posts! Such a wonderful city.

  • Reply Kirsten Foster April 29, 2014 at 1:27 pm

    We got ????????? (cut and pasted from wikipedia so probably says: ‘bicycle’) coming out our ears oop north in Stoke Newington. Come and do a ????????? crawl some time up the High Street? You may see Gilbert & George.

    • Helen
      Reply Helen April 29, 2014 at 1:29 pm

      Or…question marks! Was it supposed to say lamacun?!

  • Reply Kirsten Foster April 29, 2014 at 1:28 pm

    OK, I now look mental. Those ‘????’ in my last post were supposed to be clever clever cut-n-pastings of lahmacun in Armenian script. So where you see ‘????’ think ‘lahmacun’, which is a pretty good rule generally.

    • Helen
      Reply Helen April 29, 2014 at 1:30 pm

      HA. I thought so…yes I really should haul my ass over to Stoke Newington, huh.

  • Reply Hulya Erdal April 29, 2014 at 1:29 pm

    Great write up, Helen. You’ve captured the essence of Lahmacun very well! Definitely one of our best exports! Look forward to seeing you in June and thank you kindly for the mention xxx

    • Helen
      Reply Helen April 29, 2014 at 1:29 pm

      No problem! I’m really looking forward to it x

  • Reply Helen April 29, 2014 at 1:32 pm

    Looks wonderful! You’re very own ‘Peckham Pizza’ remains one of the tastiest things I’ve ever made :-)

    • Helen
      Reply Helen April 29, 2014 at 1:37 pm

      WOO! So pleased you liked it :)

  • Reply Helen April 29, 2014 at 1:33 pm

    Your…, obviously.

  • Reply Joe Hammond April 29, 2014 at 4:27 pm

    By your fifth photo I had clicked ‘book’ on the next Gatwick flight to Istanbul.

    • Helen
      Reply Helen April 29, 2014 at 4:29 pm

      HA! Excellent. Everyone should go. You will love it!

  • Reply Ana April 29, 2014 at 4:57 pm

    Have you tried the lahmacun in Antepliler in Harringay? What did you think? We really liked it.

    • Helen
      Reply Helen April 29, 2014 at 6:16 pm

      HARRINGAY!!?? ha ha. Sorry. No I haven’t.

  • Reply Ana April 29, 2014 at 10:42 pm

    Yeap, Harringay, known as Little Turkey. For a lahmacun/Turkish food fix a little closer to home :).
    Antepliler baklava is amazing, too. By far the best I’ve had in the UK.

    • Helen
      Reply Helen April 30, 2014 at 9:26 am

      I really should make it to Harringay, huh. Damn…

  • Reply Donald April 30, 2014 at 12:38 pm

    Isn’t Istanbul closer? 😉

    • Helen
      Reply Helen April 30, 2014 at 12:40 pm

      I think it might be.

  • Reply Donald April 30, 2014 at 12:40 pm

    Mind you there was the amazing looking place with the two old ladies hand rolling manti in the window that I saw last time I was in Green Lanes..

    • Helen
      Reply Helen April 30, 2014 at 12:42 pm

      TAKE ME THERE

  • Reply Adrian April 30, 2014 at 6:33 pm

    Great photos – my mother is currently in Istanbul, I’ll text her so that she can taste this vicariously for me!

  • Reply The Peckham Pauadog May 2, 2014 at 10:29 am

    Six months spent hitching/bussing all around marvellous Turkey in 1989. Lived on these things which we just called “pide”. Absolutely delicious whatever the local spice mix.Village bakeries let you provide your own fillings, I recall. Gotta get up to Harringay for a long missed fix!

    • Helen
      Reply Helen May 2, 2014 at 1:37 pm

      Pide is the sliced thing in the top photos, the lahmacun is underneath. As much as I like pide, I have to say I much prefer lahmacun. Having said that, I ate my bodyweight in both!

    • Helen
      Reply Helen May 2, 2014 at 1:37 pm

      Also yes, Harringay is a must visit for me too

  • Reply Kavey May 4, 2014 at 10:08 am

    I still miss the small local cafe run by a Turkish man and his German wife. I adored his lahmacun, eaten just like your photo, stuffed with salad and rolled up. They closed a few years ago and I haven’t got over the loss…

    • Helen
      Reply Helen May 5, 2014 at 8:55 am

      Robbed! That’s such a shame.

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