Lamb and sumac 'pizza' with tahini sauce and charred onions

This Middle Eastern-style lamb "pizza" is a twist on a lahmacun.
This Middle Eastern-style lamb "pizza" is a twist on a lahmacun. Photo: Katrina Meynink

This cheese-free lahmacun-style Middle Eastern "pizza" is all about the sweet 'n' sour, from the spiced lamb mixture to the lemony tahini yoghurt sauce and the charred onion. Add the sumac to the mince mixture gradually so you can control the contrast between the sweetness of the maple and the brilliant sourness of the sumac.

Ingredients

3 tbsp tomato paste

1 tbsp olive oil

4 shallots, peeled and halved lengthways

½ tbsp zataar spice blend

fresh herbs and leaves (I used coriander, mint and kale), to serve

pomegranate seeds, to serve (optional)

Pizza base

1½ cups room temperature water

1 x 7g sachet dried yeast

2 tbsp olive oil

½ tbsp brown sugar

400g plain flour

150g semolina

1 tsp ground cumin

5g salt

Mince topping

250g lamb mince

6 dates, finely sliced

¾ cup pistachio kernels, roughly chopped

¼ cup dried cranberries

2½ tbsp maple syrup

1 tsp sumac (or to taste)

1 tsp freshly ground coriander seeds

1 cup coriander leaves, very finely chopped

Tahini sauce

1 tbsp tahini

juice of ½ small lemon

4 tbsp Greek yoghurt

Method

1. To make the pizza base, place the room temperature water, yeast, olive oil and brown sugar in a jug; stir to combine then set aside for five minutes to allow the yeast to activate.

2. Place the flour, semolina, cumin and salt to a mixing bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Give it a quick stir to combine. Once the yeast mixture foams and bubbles on top, pour it over the flour mixture. Turn the mixer to low to incorporate, then increase the speed to medium and mix the dough until combined and smooth (about three minutes).

3. Cover the mixing bowl with a cloth and put in a warm place until the dough has doubled in size (about one hour).

4. Meanwhile, make the mince topping. Place a frypan over medium heat. Add the mince and cook until just browned (one to two minutes). Add the remaining mince topping ingredients and cook for an additional minute or so, until the meat is coated and almost sticky looking. Remove from heat.

5. Preheat the oven to 165C (185C conventional).

6. Turn the dough onto a flat tray and stretch out to make a large rectangular pizza. I used a tray approximately 30cm x 20cm. (If you don't have one as large as this, you can shape the dough into 2-4 pizza rounds instead.)

7. Spread the tomato paste over the pizza base. Spoon the lamb mince mixture onto the base and spread out across the area (reserve the frypan). Bake for 12-20 minutes, turning the pizza regularly to prevent the nuts and dried fruit from catching and burning.

8. While the pizza is cooking, make the tahini sauce. Put all the sauce ingredients in a small bowl, loosen with two tablespoons of water, add a pinch of salt and whisk until smooth. Set aside until ready to serve.

9. Return the frypan to high heat. Add the olive oil, and once searing hot, add the shallot halves, turning occasionally so the 'petals' separate and char nicely – this will take anywhere between one and three minutes.

10. Remove the pizza from the oven. Scatter over the charred onion pieces and drizzle with tahini sauce. Scatter over the zaatar, fresh herbs and pomegranate seeds (if using) and serve piping hot.