Peckham Pizza

April 3, 2011


Peckham Pizza

I arrived at this recipe after a week of experimenting with lahmacun, or ‘Turkish pizza’. Lahmacun (pronounced lah-ma-jun) is a thin, flat disk of dough smeared with minced lamb (or beef), spices and aleppo pepper, cooked and then finished with a sprinkle of lemon juice and fresh herbs. I’ve made a few variations over the past 7 days and they’ve all been delish, particularly when scattered with chopped pickled cucumbers. As time went by though I found the recipe evolving into something a little more locally influenced.

As you all know, Persepolis is one of my favourite local food shops and I nip in at every opportunity. The shopkeeper, Sally has a recipe for ‘Persian Pizza’ in her cookbook, which bears many similarities to lahmacun but does away with dough faffing and uses ready bought bread instead. Feeling fatigued, I was having me some of that. I would just cook the lamb mixture before spreading it on the bread and cut about 2 hours off the prep time.

I ditched the aleppo pepper too for a jar of  ‘gongura red chilli pickle’; a highly addictive paste of sour gongura leaves, fierce hot chillies, garlic, tamarind and spices. For post-cooking pimpage, it had to be finely chopped Iranian cucumbers, which have a curious mix of musty/sharp/sweet flavours and are justifiably world famous. To finish, a swirl of cooling yoghurt and the essential fresh herbs.

The way to eat this is to roll it up, grasp it and show it who’s boss. My boyfriend was in raptures over it and I have to say I’m very pleased with the recipe; the bread works better than the dough ever did and the pickle adds an exotic tangy and hot flavour. Crisp bread, spiced meat, chopped pickles, cool yoghurt, fragrant herbs = contrast-tastic.  It’s packed with flavours of the Middle East and is therefore oh so very Peckham.

Peckham Pizza

Peckham Pizza

(makes 4)

4 naan breads
500g minced lamb
2 tablespoons gongura chilli pickle (or you could substitute chopped pickled chillies)
1 large onion, finely chopped
4 tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

2 pickled cucumbers, finely chopped
Lemon wedges
Fresh herbs (I used parsley and coriander)

Soften the onion in a little oil then add the minced lamb. Stir it, breaking it up until it is all browned. Meanwhile, skin the tomatoes by covering them with boiling water and leaving a for a few minutes. Drain them then cover with cold water for a further minute. Rub the skins off, quarter them and remove the seeds. Blend to a paste in a blender or chop finely.

When the meat is browned, add the spices and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds or so. Add the chilli pickle and tomatoes and let cook for around 10 minutes on a medium heat, stirring occasionally. Check the seasoning and adjust to taste.

Preheat the oven to 180C. Spread the topping over each naan, making sure to really press it down and spread it right out to the edges. Cook for around 5 minutes, until the edges of the naan are nice and crisp. I find the best results come from cooking the pizza directly on the oven rack (i.e without a baking tray).

Artfully dollop on some yoghurt, scatter with fresh herbs and serve with wedges of lemon.

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    Reply Paul April 4, 2011 at 12:44 pm

    That looks bloody fantastic! Is the Hibiscus Cannabinus in the Gongura any relation to what I think it is???

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    Reply Yohanna April 4, 2011 at 12:46 pm

    Can not wait for the weekend to try this out myself. Might put a Brixton twist to it and “jerk it up” a bit.

    addcitive blog…Will return for more inspiration 🙂

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    Reply Jess April 4, 2011 at 12:51 pm

    Interesting point on the bread. I reck you can’t do it with dough unless you’ve got a pizza oven really? (Which I no longer have. I did used to have use of my boyfriend’s concrete-modified kettle BBQ but not any more – shame as I bet this would fookin’ rawk cooked atop a stone chopping board on a roof terrace in the Elephant).

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    Reply chloe April 4, 2011 at 12:52 pm

    Phwoarrrr, great idea for a quick meal. I’ve always made my own dough which limits it to a weekend meal for me, never really thought to use a naan. Great idea!

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    Reply Su-Lin April 4, 2011 at 1:02 pm


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    Reply sakura April 4, 2011 at 1:05 pm

    I love these! I get them at our local Turkish bakery in Archway on Junction Road where they also have two ladies making fresh gözleme ( by the window every day.

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    Reply Chris April 4, 2011 at 1:08 pm

    COR! Now, this looks like my kind of Pizza! I can almost smell it through the screen, here.

    Note to self: attempting to sniff laptop draws funny looks from co-workers…

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    Reply Helen April 4, 2011 at 1:40 pm

    Paul – It MUST be, right?! I’m addicted to it anyway.

    Yohanna – Do it! I’m a jerk obsessive myself.

    Jess – I bet it fookin would!! Damn, I want a pizza oven. I think you’re deffo right about that.

    Chloe – SO much easier and actually, better!

    Su-Lin – Ha ha ha ha. MAKE!

    Sakura – Wow, they look gorgeous, thanks for the link.

    Chris – I take no responsibility for your becoming an outcast at work 😉

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    Reply Mr Noodles April 4, 2011 at 3:57 pm

    This is my fave Turkish dish!

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    Reply Sharmila April 4, 2011 at 4:13 pm

    This does look bloody brilliant. And I’m loving the addition of a bit of gongura – one of my favourites in the Priya range. I didn’t even know that Persepolis sold it!

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    Reply Oli April 4, 2011 at 5:42 pm

    Great recipe- love that you have taken a good base recipe and Peckhamised it!

    Where do you get the lovely Naan from? Would hate to make this with crap naan and regret it.

    What about using Khobez? Although, maybe they would become too crispy- like a giant Kettle Crisp with minced lamb on top…. actually crisps with a meat topping sound ace.

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    Reply Wendy April 4, 2011 at 5:54 pm

    Great. Now I don’t want my dinner. I want that. Thanks a million. 😉

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    Reply Wull April 4, 2011 at 6:24 pm

    Looks fantastic – where do you get the cucumbers.

    Love your blog – been subscribed since I first tried your jerk chicken recipe last year.

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    Reply Robert April 4, 2011 at 6:58 pm

    Looks delicious. I like lamahcun but never thought about making it. But I do like the idea as I have naan bread and some frozen lamb mince. The rest I can improvise for tomorrow lunch!

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    Reply Helen April 4, 2011 at 8:18 pm

    Mr. Noodles – It’s a classic!

    Sharmila – Git yerself daahn there luv (that’s SE London speak)

    Oli – Well, unsurprisingly I got it from persepolis – yes I spend all my time and money in there. Khobez is deffo worth a try.

    Wendy – NO problemo! 😉

    Wull – Aww really glad you’re enjoying the blog.

    Robert – It’s so easy! Spesh using the bread.

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    Reply Helen April 5, 2011 at 2:41 pm

    This is the third time today that I’ve read this post, just because it looks so darn tasty. It has inspired me to make my first trip to Persepolis this Saturday, which feels now like more of a pilgrimage, due to Helen’s un-erring recommendations!

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    Reply bellini April 5, 2011 at 2:43 pm

    This is one of my new favourites Helen. I love it will the greens inside for a fresh flavour that can’t be beat.

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    Reply Lizzie April 5, 2011 at 6:18 pm

    Oooh I’ve never had lahmucun. I’ve always wondered how to spell it. Your Peckham version looks ace.

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    Reply Lizzie April 5, 2011 at 6:21 pm

    Spell? Pronounce. D’oh.

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    Reply Food Urchin April 6, 2011 at 7:17 am

    This looks a bit bloody good, especially the gongura.

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    Reply Jonathan April 7, 2011 at 7:02 pm

    Can you post stuff that is less tasty please – because what I’m going to eat tonight has about 1/100th of the appetite appeal.

    Peckham pizza sounds awesome.

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    Reply Becs April 7, 2011 at 9:59 pm

    I just drooled a little bit on my keyboard! I love making my own pizzas but not necessarily been very experimental with the flavourings. Giving this one a go at the weekend!

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    Reply mandrill April 15, 2011 at 4:42 pm

    I always have to include bell peppers; Paprika and garlic in my homemade Lahmacuns. Acidulated raw onion top it off just fine along with Yoghurt; green chillis and tons of chilli flakes.

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