A specialty of Turkmen shepherds, ichlekli (pronounced ishlekli) is a meat pie that was traditionally baked by burying it in hot sand and embers. Nowadays, ichlekli is baked in the oven but the traditional technique is still kept alive by local enthusiasts.
Içlekli – Turkmen Shepherd’s Pie
For the filling:
- 500 g beef or lamb
- 1 tomato, diced
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- ½ bell pepper, diced
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Pinch of ground black pepper
- Pinch of ground red pepper
- 8 tablespoons water
For the dough:
- 50 g butter, melted
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 300 ml lukewarm water
- 500 g flour
- Begin by partially freezing the meat for easier slicing. Then cut the meat into thin slices. Stack the slices, cut them into thin strips, then cut the strips crosswise into tiny pieces. Mix all the filling ingredients together in a large bowl.
- In another large bowl, mix all the dough ingredients together and work to a soft dough. Divide the dough in half and roll each half between your palms into a ball. Cover the dough balls with a kitchen towel and allow to rest for 5 minutes.
- Take one ball of dough, sprinkle some flour on it and roll it out to a circle of about 30 cm in diameter. Transfer the dough to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Spread the filling evenly over the dough, leaving a 1 cm border.
- Roll out the remaining ball of dough to the same size as the first and place it over the filling. Fold the edge over itself and press down firmly to seal.
- Cut a small hole in the center of the pie to allow steam to escape, and prick the rest of the surface with a fork. Brush the top of the pie with water. Bake at 250°C (482°F) on the middle rack until the top is light brown, about 25 minutes. Serve right away.