Pide – Turkish pizza
Here is a traditional Turkish dish to fill you up and bring a smile to your lips. It’s an absolutely classic staple in Turkey. This warming doughy concoction is about the closest you can get to a home grown Turkish equivalent of pizza.
You can find specialist pide restaurants in any town in Turkey. Just watching them make the pides is a real pleasure in itself and whets your appetite for what is to follow. The pide chef moves around his marble worktops, taking perfectly round little patties of dough, kneading them a wrestler, before dressing them with scrummy toppings and whisking them into wood fired ovens on the longest wooden spatula you’ve ever seen. It’s a hot and crackling spectacle.
The last time I was in Turkey I stood admiring the pideci’s art, with my 7 year old daughter Rebecca sitting on my shoulder, craning her neck to see deep inside the oven. We must have stood there for a full 15 minutes, rooted to the spot, watching as golden pides came flying out of the fire, one after another.
Don’t expect sophistication. Don’t expect delicate mezes and fine dining. Pide is cheap and cheerful. The perfect comfort food on a cold winter’s day, equally welcome as a hearty snack on a sunny summer’s day.
Below we suggest some traditional Turkish toppings, but as with Italian pizzas, once you have the base, you can of course add what you like. Feel free to create your own complex combination of flavours to startle your senses!
Ingredients: (makes approx four Pide bases)
2 teaspoons dried yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
150 ml water or milk
300 grams flour (approx)
1 teaspoon salt
2.5 tablespoons olive oil
First off, warm the water or milk. It must not be warmer than body temperature, otherwise the yeast dies. Just as you would with a bath, use a (clean) elbow to check the temperature if in doubt! Mix in the yeast and sugar. Sift the flour into a large bowl, add the salt, then stir in the yeasty liquid, and add the olive oil.
Mix together until all the ingredients are well blended, then knead the dough for about 2 minutes (the more you knead, the more flexible the dough becomes). Put the dough back in the bowl and dust some flour lightly over the top. Then put a plastic bag over and around the bowl and leave it in a warm place (like an airing cupboard or boiler room) for around 20 minutes. The plastic bags stops the dough from drying out and aids the proving process.
Whilst the dough is proving, you can get started with your topping.
Once the dough has raised (it should be about 50 % larger than before), take it out and knead well to get rid of any air bubbles. You may have to add a little flour to stop it from sticking, but do use sparingly so that the dough remains nice and moist.
Cut the dough into four equal chunks and knead each of them well. This helps develop the arm muscles ready for your next bout of Turkish wrestling. Place one of the pieces on a lightly floured surface, and use a rolling pin (substitute a wine bottle – carefully – if you don’t have a rolling pin to hand) to roll it into an elongated oval.
Spread your desired filling on top of the pide, and crimp the edges up 1-2 centimetres, so your pide has a shape rather like a large stuffed aubergine/eggplant, or a flattened boat. Brush the sides and edges with olive oil, then bake for about 15 minutes at 250 degrees Celsius.
Meaty (kiymali) pides:
We love spicy, meaty pides. Normally they’re very simple, like this beef variation, which is also the basis for the very thin, round variety of pide in Turkey, known as lahmacun.
250 grams beef mince
1 peeled and diced tomato
1 onion, finely diced
3 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 pepper (you could use a sweet one, or if you like it fiery, use a chilli pepper as well)
Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl, spread on top of your pide. Bake in the oven.
If you fancy trying something more exotic and unusual:
1 tbls olive oil
2 medium onions diced
125 grams minced lamb
125 grams finely diced lamb
150 ml red wine
2 small garlic cloves
2 tblsp cumin
2 tblsp paprika
Warm a saucepan and fry the onions until they are transparent. Add the mince and diced lamb and fry until all the meat is gently browned. Add the wine and enough water to cover the meat. Let the mixture cook for a good hour or more. Then add the garlic, cumin and paprika, and let the mixture cook for another 15 minutes or so. If any liquid remains, decant it off. Your topping is ready! Simply apply and bake in the oven.
Sujuk (Spicy salami) Pide:
25 slices sujuk (or spicy salami sausage)
80 grams grated mozzarella cheese
1 tomato, peeled, sliced
1 long green pepper sliced and de-seeded
Apart from the pepper, mix the ingredients together and spread on top of your pide. Then add the slices of green pepper for a decorative and tasty finish. Bake in the oven.
Cheesy (peynirli) Pide:
2 tablespoons oilve oil
1 onion, chopped
1 can chopped tomatoes
1 clove garlic (crushed)
100 grams feta cheese (crumbled)
100 grams mozzarella cheese
Fry onions in olive oil until transparent, add garlic and fry for a little longer. Add the tomatoes, and let the mixture cook until most of the juice has evaporated. Spread the sauce on the pide.
Throw on some black olives, some feta cheese, and some mozzarella. Add oregano and black pepper. Bake in the oven.