Pide (Turkish Pizza)

Yes, it’s true! We made it to Round 5 of Project Food Blog! This is my entry for challenge #5: put our own spin on the beloved pizza.

Oh pizza. You and I, we’ve known each other a long time, haven’t we?

I still remember when we became friends, when I was a little girl in Hong Kong. My grandmothers would take my sister and me to that one Pizza Hut in Central for lunch when we’ve been especially well-behaved. Boy, you sure had some crazy toppings back then. Assorted shellfish? Thousand-island dressing? Together?? But hey, that’s all behind us now, so let’s not dwell on the past. Besides, I was just so thankful you gave us an excuse for those outings and more importantly, the occasional breaks from rice-based lunches.

Then in high school, remember how we would meet for lunch every day? This was, of course, because my friends and I had developed the optimal strategy for utilizing our thirty-minute lunch period. It involved grabbing the table closest to the pizza line, buying a slice of pizza and a drink (Hawaiian Punch or Country Time Lemonade), then chowing down. You used to come straight from the Little Caesar down the street – or was it Domino’s – piping hot and smelling heavenly. But, and there’s really no graceful way to put this, I always used up a couple of napkins soaking up the pools of oil on top of my slice. I’m sorry if that was rude, but when you eat pizza every day, that’s the kind of stuff that you think actually matters.

During college, when my friends and I would work on class projects in the computer lab late into the night, you would arrive via a Papa Johns delivery car. That little tub of garlic something-or-other dip always tagged along with you plus a couple of peperoncini peppers, which we would sometimes fight over. Truth be told, on those nights, you were nothing more than fuel.

I even remember that one time in London, near the beginning of my work-abroad program, when some of my new co-workers and I went to the Pizza Express in Soho for dinner. When the bill came, they refused to let me pay, one of them saying that he remembered what it was like when he was my age and just starting out in the real world. I will never forget that night, when I witnessed true kindness and generosity in near-strangers in a strange country and how that made me feel just a little less homesick.

So you see, with so much history behind us, it’s not surprising that I found it rather difficult to think about reinventing you at home. That is, until I remember the day I met pide.

It was a night, a couple of years ago, when Nathan and I joined some friends for dinner at a Turkish restaurant in the Tenderloin. While chatting, I absent-mindedly chose something off the menu without really knowing what it was. What the waiter placed in front of me looked a lot like you, smelled kind of like you, but tasted only slightly like you. It was almost as if you had traveled the world and back, bringing with you new ideas for toppings, a generous dose of spices, and a wonderfully exotic way of shaping the dough. I didn’t think about pide for a long time after that, but I guess in the back of my mind, I always knew that we were destined to meet again.

Oh pizza, you know that I will never forsake you. All I’m saying is that now, I might turn to my new friend pide every now and then for a change, especially if I’m craving something simultaneously familiar and exotic. It’s not that I like pide more than you or anything. I like you both equally but in different ways. Surely, you can understand that, right?

The dough for Turkish pide is very similar to a basic pizza dough. I referred to this dough recipe and modified it only slightly. When searching for pide, be aware that there is another Turkish bread by that name, which is usually served during Ramadan. That is not the one you want.

For the topping, ground beef can be a good substitute for ground lamb. Traditionally, either chopped tomatoes or tomato paste is added with the meat and no separate sauce is used, so our combination of red pepper sauce and spiced meat is not exactly authentic. See here for a list of common toppings you would find in Turkey.

For the dough:
2 cup all-purpose flour (to start, will probably need a bit more)
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 ½ tsp instant yeast (if using active dry yeast, increase to 2 tsp)
1 cup warm water

For the sauce:
2 red bell peppers
olive oil
freshly ground black pepper

For the topping:
1 lb ground lamb
1 onion, chopped finely
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp pimentón (smoked paprika) or paprika
½ tsp ground cumin
small pinch of ground cinnamon
freshly ground pepper

For garnish:
3 eggs (optional)
lemon zest
fresh mint leaves, chopped
red pepper flakes

Make the dough: (If using active dry yeast, combine the warm water with the sugar in a small bowl. Sprinkle in the yeast. Wait about 10-15 min until foamy. Proceed with recipe but remember that you already added the sugar to your yeast mixture.) Add all the ingredients to the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the paddle attachment, mix on low speed until well-combined.

On a well-floured board, turn out the dough which will look clumpy and messy. Flour the board and your hands liberally and begin gathering the dough into a ball. Knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 min or so. Sprinkle with flour as needed to keep from sticking. If the dough starts looking too dry, drizzle in a tiny bit more olive oil.

Oil a large bowl and place the dough ball inside, then flip the dough ball upside down to ensure that the whole surface is covered by a film of oil. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp kitchen towel and let rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, about 2 hours.

Make the sauce: Using a broiler or gas stove, thoroughly char the skins of the red bell peppers until blackened. Place the peppers in a large bowl and cover to allow them to steam for 15-20 min. Carefully remove the blackened skin as well as the stem and seeds. Roughly chop the roasted peppers and place in the bowl of a food processor. Drizzle in a healthy glug of olive oil and puree. Season with salt and pepper.

Make the topping: Heat 2 Tbsp of olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add in onions and cook until softened, about 5 min. Add in garlic, pimentón, cumin, cinnamon and saute for a few more minutes until fragrant. Add in lamb. Saute until lamb is cooked through, about 10-15 more min. Taste and adjust seasonings with salt and pepper. Drain in a colander and let cool.

Assemble the pides: Preheat oven to 500F. If using a pizza stone, that should be in the oven during preheating. Sprinkle a peel with a pinch of cornmeal. If you don’t have a peel, use an inverted baking sheet.

Divide the dough into three pieces. Keep the other pieces wrapped in plastic while you work with one piece. Use a floured rolling pin to gently roll out the dough into a long, oval shape (see photos). Once you have the dough rolled out to your preferred thickness, transfer to your prepared peel or inverted baking sheet. Spread a few spoonfuls of sauce on the dough, leaving a thick border, then add the topping.

Fold the border up over the meat to create a frame. I like to make a boat shape by pleating and pinching together (see photos), similar to how I wrap dumplings except on a bigger scale. You can also just fold the border up without pleating. At each pointy end of the dough, pinch together the two sides and give the “tail” a twist to secure the fold.

Carefully slide the pide onto the baking stone (or stick the whole baking sheet into the oven if not using a stone). Bake for 8-10 min, until the dough edges are nicely browned, the red pepper sauce is bubbling slightly, and the bottom is crispy. Carefully remove the pide from the oven. Repeat with the remaining two pieces of dough.

Finish the pides: If you love eggs as much as me, fry the eggs, sunny-side up, in olive oil but keep the yolks quite runny and top each pide with a fried egg. Add on a sprinkle of chopped mint, a pinch of red pepper flakes, and a bit of lemon zest. Slice and enjoy.

Yield: 3 personal-sized pides
Time: 1-1.5 hrs prep + ~2 hrs for rising dough


  1. Rich said:
    22 October 2010 at 10:03 pm

    “During college, when my friends and I would work on class projects in the computer lab late into the night, you would arrive via a Papa Johns delivery car.”

    Okay, first of all, let me say that the Pide looks fantastic. I have put it on the list of my future endeavors.

    Now let me address the quote I’ve pulled. My roommate and I ALWAYS ordered Papa John’s and I remember the garlic butter sauce vividly. But we always ordered ours with extra jalapenos, and only extra jalapenos. We noticed that was the only kind of pizza we could order without everyone in the dorm coming down the hall and mooching.

    Anyway, here’s to mutual Papa John’s memories!

    • angi said:
      23 October 2010 at 5:39 pm

      Hurray Papa John’s! I honestly think that without their pizza, I very well might never have passed those classes. Something about that garlic butter sauce makes it not so bad to be coding in a dark computer lab all through the night. And Rich, it’s a good thing I wasn’t in the dorm because I would have totally stolen some of that jalapeño pizza – I love them on pizzas! :) Thanks for reading!

  2. 22 October 2010 at 10:11 pm

    That really is a pizza I want to cook. Loved the fried egg topping with lemon zest.

    • angi said:
      23 October 2010 at 5:40 pm

      Thanks Chandani! I support you in making this pizza – you won’t regret it!

  3. 23 October 2010 at 3:09 pm

    Oh yum. Your pictures take me back to my trip to Turkey! So where is this Turkish restaurant you visited, and did you like it there? I must check it out!

    • angi said:
      23 October 2010 at 5:42 pm

      Heather, I’m so envious that you went to Turkey! :) The Turkish restaurant in the Tenderloin where I first had a pide is called A La Turca. I’ve always been meaning to go back. It’s a nice, causal little place with great food, so you should definitely check it out and let me know what you think. Cheers!

  4. Natalie said:
    25 October 2010 at 10:10 am

    I love Pida even more then pizza now. Eat it with a nice salad and it is scummy. Well done for making it though. I have never been that brave to attempt it.

    • angi said:
      25 October 2010 at 5:04 pm

      Natalie, if I lived in Turkey, I might not have made pide either, since I hear they’re readily available everywhere. But over here, desperate times call for desperate measures… :) Thanks for reading!

  5. Sarah said:
    18 November 2011 at 8:05 am

    This looks…AMAZING. I love anything with a fried egg on top. Can’t wait to make this!

    • angi said:
      18 November 2011 at 4:51 pm

      Yay! Thanks for reading!

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