My favorite pizza dough recipe of all time (so far) is from the book Home Baking by Alford and Duguid. It’s just the perfect blend of white and whole wheat, with just the right amount of chew and crispiness and not at all doughy. The recipe I got it from, however, isn’t a traditional pizza – it’s a middle-eastern lamb flatbread often made as a street food.
In the original recipe, the pizzas are cooked one at a time as small, personal-size breads in a skillet, then finished under the broiler, rolled up like burritos and eaten immediately with mint and yogurt. This time, though, I wanted to have it all done at once so we could sit and enjoy our pizza together. So I followed my usual pizza-making format and baked two pizzas at very high heat, adding the toppings at appropriate points. It worked! The other way is good, but this was very, very tasty. And I was so excited to find a little bit of fresh mint in my garden to sprinkle on top!
While we were eating, I was reminded of a pizza that my friends and I often got in college – the “gyros pizza” from the two local Greek-owned pizzerias (run by competing brothers). I don’t remember the exact toppings, but it was a spiced beef or lamb pizza that always came with a container of tsatsiki sauce. It was delicious. You could definitely do the same sort of thing here, just by crushing some garlic into a bowl of yogurt, maybe adding a bit more mint. Yum.
Middle-eastern Lamb Pizza
Dough for two pizzas (you can see the recipe I use here, but you could use any good yeasted bread dough, preferably with a bit of whole wheat flour)
For the lamb topping:
1 lb ground lamb
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 Tbsp tamarind pulp
4 Tbsp hot water
1 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
fresh mint leaves, torn up
Preheat the oven to 500°.
Soak the tamarind pulp in the hot water and squish it around a bit, then pour the liquid through a strainer into a small bowl. Squash the pulp against the strainer to get as much tamarind flavor into the liquid as possible. Reserve the liquid, toss the leftover pulp.
Saute the onion in a bit of oil until translucent, then add the lamb and break it up in the pan. Add the tamarind liquid, stir well and let simmer for five minutes. Add the other seasonings and remove from the heat.
Roll out half your dough into a fairly thin round and transfer it onto your hot pizza stone. Working fast, dump half of your lamb filling onto the pizza and scatter it evenly. Get the oven door closed. After five minutes or so, pull out the rack and scatter a handful of pine nuts over the pizza. Put it back in for 3-5 minutes, until the edges of the pizza look golden and crispy. Take it out of the oven and sprinkle the fresh mint over it.
Slice and eat, dipping each piece into yogurt-garlic sauce, if desired.