top of page

The Origin of Lahmacun

    Lahmacun has a long history, it has existed in the world for more than 5000 years. The word “lahmacun” comes from an Arabic word, laḥm ˁacīn, which means kneaded (like a dough) meat. Separately, “lahm” means meat, and “acin” means kneaded dough. The word “acin” comes from another Arabic word, “macun”. Macun refers to the object that has the consistency of dough. The first example of the word lahmacun in written sources is included in Evliya Çelebi’s work named travel, before the year 1680. But the word lahmacun has not been any dictionary before the 20th century.


Baking dough with meat has been around for millennia in the Middle East, and Turks, especially the Tatars, were known to prepare thin bread with a combination of meat and cheese for their meals. The exact manner of baking in this dish can be traced back to the 17th century, when Evliya Çelebi visited Damascus and recorded it in his famous travelogue “Seyahatname.” He wrote that he ate a “lahm-ı acînlı börek,” which came to be called the lahmacun we know and love today. Çelebi first gave it the name börek in reference to the thin layer of dough. Close to Damascus are the provinces of Şanlıurfa and Gaziantep, so the dish spread rather quickly simply due to the vicinity. While the dish remained a staple in region and was not too widely consumed outside the Ottoman empire, the concept was taken to the Americas in the 19th century. South Americans gave it a Latin spin and is now known as “sfiha” in Argentina and Brazil. Over the years, the dish spread throughout Turkey, and in the 1960s it became so popular long queues could be seen in cities throughout the country, as people flocked to try out this southeastern specialty.

    Since Lahmacun is made with unleavened dough and it is quite easy to make, it is estimated that lahmacun exists long, long before. Approximately, it is known to be existing in the Babylonia period, and as a Middle Eastern food. Until the spreading of stone ovens, lahmacun was not easy to prepare. With the spread of stone ovens, it became possible to cook both dough and the topping at the same time. And until the mid-1960s, lahmacun was only popular in specific regions in Turkey, especially in eastern regions that include Gaziantep and Şanlıurfa. 


As the migration from those small towns to bigger cities, individuals started to make and sell lahmacun in those big cities. Since it is a taste that common people will like, it became popular very quickly and it preserves its popularity up to date. Nowadays, rather than being street food, lahmacun is a lot more industrialized taste in which you can find in various restaurants and cafes.

Lahmacun is also popular in Armenia, Lebanon, and Syria. Even though there is no clear evidence about where it was invented, most of the world agrees that lahmacun is a traditional Turkish or Armenian food. Even though it is not a really pizza, it is sometimes called Armenian Pizza or Turkish Pizza.


Photo Credits:

bottom of page