I Like my Pizza from Syria

Choice is a good thing but too much choice can be bad, for this very reason, pizza can be the most annoying dish on earth. 

For me, going to a pizzeria is always quite traumatic: after much humming and hawing to choose which topping I would prefer, I invariably change my mind when the waiter is about to leave the table with my order; and that is only picking the toppings, if there is also a choice of dough the whole outing turns into agony.

I suspect that master pizza bakers have secret competitions somewhere in the hill around Naples to produce the most unlikely combination of toppings. I am sure they dream up silly toppings and give them Italian names. I can hear the discussions, “What about the Pomegranitela: crayfish, asparagus, and pomegranate pizza, and for this season’s vegetarian choice, the Sisistellina: salad, spring onions, spices, and to top it all . . . come on . . . why not? Be new, be trendy . . . spaghetti, that should be a winner.”

I am sorry, but I do like some things to be simple; this is why I like the pizzas in Syria – no nonsense, full of flavor, simple one-choice pizza. Some of you might say that they had the same in Morocco or in Algeria. I raise my case, across several countries one kind of pizza.

I had forgotten all about the pizza from Syria but as I was reviewing Feast Bazaar: India, Morocco, Syria by Barry Vera, I was flooded with memories of my time spent in Syria. There it was, recipe and all, I had to make it straight away and it was as delicious as I remembered. Here it is, if you would like to have a go, and if you have experienced some silly toppings, let me know with your comment.
Cinnamon Lamb Pizza with Oregano Makes 4

35g wholemeal flour
435 g plain flour, plus extra, for rolling
2 teaspoons fresh yeast
2 teaspoons sugar
21/2 teaspoons salt
420ml water
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 small brown onion, finely chopped
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
300g minced lamb4 tablespoons tomato sauce
4 balls buffalo mozzarella
2 large sprigs oregano, leaves picked

To make the pizza bases, place the flours, yeast, sugar, and 21/2 teaspoons salt into a mixer with a dough hook. With the motor running, slowly add 420ml water and 2 teaspoons of the oil. Leave the mixer on low speed for 10 minutes, or until a smooth, firm dough forms.

Divide the dough into four even portions, place on a lightly oiled tray, and cover with a damp tea towel. Leave for about 2 hours, or until the dough has doubled in size.

Roll out each portion onto a lightly floured surface to create four circles that have a 12 cm diameter and are 5mm thick. Preheat the oven to 220C (425F/Gaz7).

Heat the remaining oil in a frying pan over medium heat.

Add the onion and cinnamon and fry for about 2-3 minutes, or until the onion is soft.

Add the lamb and cook for 20-30 minutes or until it is crispy, Make sure you keep stirring the mince to break it down into small pieces. Remove from the pan and drain on paper towels.

Place the pizza bases on baking trays.

Spread 1 tablespoon of tomato sauce over each one, spreading all the way to the edge.

Sprinkle the lamb evenly over each base, then tear the buffalo mozzarella over the lamb.

Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes, or until the cheese has melted and the pizza bases are golden and crispy.

Remove from the oven and sprinkle with the oregano. Season and serve immediately.


Anonymous said...

I do enjoy offbeat pizza toppings but sometimes its nice to keep it simple too. Of course lamb and cinnamon together is always a winner!

Solange Berchemin of Pebble Soup said...

You are so right, I find that what wins me over is flavours and their combinaision.



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