Nicknamed the “Turkish pizza”, the pide, pronounced “pee-deh” in Turkish, is the other Turkish pizza after lahmacun.
What is pide?
In Turkey, pide comes in two forms.
The İçli pide, meaning “stuffed” or “garnished pide”, which is the recipe presented here, and the pide ekmeği (“pide bread”), which is a flat bread, thicker than the İçli pide. The pide ekmeği is offered in the vast majority of restaurants in Turkey.
From the dough of pide ekmeği, with a delicious brioche taste, other flat breads are made:
- Tirnaklı pide, meaning “nail pide” in Turkish, which is pide ekmeği but in a different presentation because it is decorated with the fingertips before cooking, hence the term “nail”. Tirnaklı pide is the ultimate bread served with an İskender kebap or a doner kebap.
- Ramazan pide, generally available only during the holy month of Ramadan, is a round white bread with sesame seeds. The Ramadan version is the essential taste of Iftar meals. It is often eaten with a good Turkish lentil soup, like the ezogelin çorbasi.
The different variants of garnished pide
The garnished pide is known by different names depending on the topping or the region:
- Kaşarlı pide, with cheese.
- Kaşarlı-yumurtalı pide, with cheese and eggs
- Kavurmalı pide, meaning “roasted”, which can be garnished with different ingredients and which has the particularity of being crisp, hence its name.
- Kıymalı pide, with ground beef
- Ispanakli pide, with spinach.
- Kuşbaşı etli pide, with diced beef.
- Pastırmalı-yumurtalı, with pastrami and eggs.
- Sujuk pide, with Turkish sausage.
- Peynirli pide, with cheese.
- Sarmısaklı pide, with garlic.
- Tahinli pide, with tahini.
- Karadeniz pide, meaning “from the Black Sea”, region where it seems excellent. All versions prepared in the Black Sea region are called that.
- Kastamonu kır pidesi, meaning “of the prairies”, very similar to lahmacun.
Garnished or not, all of these are cooked in stone ovens in Turkey, which gives them a special and inimitable taste.
What is the origin of pide?
Pide is undoubtedly the predecessor of pizza.
It’s true that when pizza is mentioned, Italy tis the first place that comes to mind. But filled pasta has long been known in many cultures.
2000 years BC already, the Assyrians garnished a thin dough of meat, this specialty was called lahmacun, meaning “meat on dough” which till this day is still known as the “Turkish pizza”.
Pide is a flat Turkish bread, known in Greece as pita, which is eaten to accompany a meal, and this is where the name “pizza” would come from.
The history of pizza, a dish that has become an icon of the quality and authenticity of Italian cuisine, is indeed inextricably linked to the history of bread and the art of baking.
The ancestors of pizza can be found around 6000 years ago, at the dawn of agriculture, in Mesopotamia, and in general throughout the region between the Tigris, the Euphrates and the Nile, where the Egyptians observed that having not cooked immediately, a dough based on flour and water led to strange consequences: the dough first rose and then, if it was not cooked long enough, ended up spoiling and becoming inedible.
The Italic peoples of the 1st century BC used rolled thin bread dough as a plate on which they served the main dish. They were already experimenting with a particular type of bread making that involved a flat disc shape.
From that moment, the idea of using “bread dishes” began to spread throughout the Mediterranean region of Roman and non-Roman influence.
There are therefore examples such as focaccia, piadina, cocas from Catalonia, the region of Valencia and the Balearic Islands, and especially such as Turkish or Greek pide.
Baking at the time did not suggest the exclusive use of wheat flour, on the contrary spelled was particularly appreciated.
By reconstructing the etymology and structure of the word “pizza” in all its variants, from the Greek “pita” to the Turkish “pide” through Hebrew and Arabic, the researchers ended up hypothesizing about a commonality with the ancient Semitic languages. Going back from there, these researchers arrived in Naples: the word that identifies today the famous Neapolitan creation could have its origin on the Eastern shore of the Mediterranean and could have been brought there by the Byzantines.
Presumably this garnished dough was originally the poor man’s meal. Indeed, the bread dough was topped before or after baking, with what people had on hand.
Fast food in Turkey
Fast food has a prominent place in the eating habits of Turks. Many people, especially at lunch, eat a quick meal in the countless kebab shops and lokantas (restaurants) of the country.
The most consumed dishes in these restaurants are:
- Shich taouk, marinated chicken breast skewers.
- Adana kebab, also known as kıyma kebabı, is a long skewer of ground mutton, and mutton tail fat, grilled on a charcoal barbecue.
- Kokoreç, widespread in the Balkans and in Turkey, consists mainly of casings and offal of lamb broached with spices and aromatic herbs. The giblets (lungs, kidneys, liver) are skewered, then the intestines are wrapped all around and maintain the whole.
- Köfte, beef, lamb or chicken meatballs, as well as vegetables, cereals and legumes, such as mercimek köftesi.
- Shawarma, a popular dish eaten as a sandwich in pita bread, made with marinated lamb, chicken or beef, which is long cooked in a roasting pan or in the oven.
- And of course the lahmacun and the pide.
The Turkish street food landscape is extraordinarily rich and varied. Street vendors, with their characteristic red and gold carts, are ubiquitous.
Among the products sold in the street, you can find chestnuts, corn on the cob (boiled or roasted), various sweets like tulumba, similar to Spanish churros, or baklava, and many bakery products like simit or lavash.
And there is also the prince of street food, the börek.
Wheat flour is ultimately one of the basic ingredients of many dishes in Turkish cuisine. In addition to pide and simit, which are consumed daily, other dishes also fall into this category, such as manti (small ravioli), and a wide variety of börek.
Sheets of yufka dough, which are baked on an iron plate and sometimes kept for several months, are used to prepare almost all the börek, which can be stuffed with spinach, potatoes, ground meat or fresh cheese.
In any case, it is highly recommended to enjoy the pide with ayran, a traditional Turkish yogurt drink.
- 4 cups sifted flour
- ½ cup yogurt
- 1 egg lightly beaten
- 1 tablespoon caster sugar
- 1 tablespoon salt
- ¼ cup warm milk at 97 F / 36°C
- ¼ cup warm water at 97 F / 36°C
- 1½ tablespoon active dry yeast
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 tablespoon white vinegar
- ½ lb ground beef
- 1 tomato peeled, seeded and diced
- 1 onion finely grated
- 1 clove garlic minced
- ¼ green bell pepper diced
- 1 teaspoon tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon salçası biber red pepper paste
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 8 oz. baby spinach leaves
- 1 onion grated
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- A few slices of salami or Turkish sausage, suçuk
- 6 oz. cheddar or other hard cheese, grated
- 2 tablespoons butter melted
- 1 egg
- In a large bowl, mix the yeast and caster sugar in warm water and let stand for 15 minutes in a warm place, away from drafts.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the flour and dig a well in the center. In the center of the well, add the egg, yogurt, and yeast.
- Using the dough hook, start mixing the ingredients at low speed, while gradually incorporating the milk.
- Knead for 3 minutes, then add the salt.
- Then knead for 10 minutes at medium speed until obtaining a soft and homogeneous dough, coming off the edges of the bowl.
- Cover the dough and let it rise for an hour in a warm place, away from drafts. It should at least double in volume.
- In a sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat.
- Brown the onions for 2 minutes, then add the bell pepper and mix well. Sauté for 1 minute.
- Then add the ground meat and garlic, mashing it well with the potato masher so that no large chunks form.
- Then add the tomato, the tomato paste, and pepper concentrates.
- Season with salt, pepper and cook for 10 minutes, covered, over a medium to high heat, stirring regularly.
- If necessary at the end of cooking, remove the cover to reduce the sauce.
- In a sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat and sweat the onion for 2 minutes, stirring regularly.
- Add the spinach, salt and pepper, and brown them over high heat, stirring regularly.
- Cook until the liquid is reduced.
- Beat the egg.
- Add the melted butter and grated cheese.
- Add salt, pepper and mix well.
- Preheat the oven to 350 F (180°C).
- Place the dough on a lightly floured work surface, degas and divide it into 9 pieces.
- Roll each pide to a thickness of ½ inch (1 cm) to form a boat, and place them, well spaced, on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Spread the garnishes over the pides and fold the edges of each pide.
- In a bowl, beat the egg yolk and vinegar together and, using brush the edges of each pide.
- Bake in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes.