lahmajoon (armenian meat pies = pizzette)

These are sort of like mini-pizzas with thin flexible crust. Available in Armenian specialty stores. Or from Armenians directly. As in our case. Good to eat with some plain yogurt spread across and rolled up like a carpet.

These also come meatless but typically the meat in Armenian dishes is used sparingly for flavor so we are not driven to the vegetarian variety. Must be that "starving Armenian" heritage that keeps the meat contribution in check in Armenian cuisine, but it is also clearly more healthy. Also known as Lahm Bil Ajin in Arabic, this is apparently the middle eastern answer to Italian pizza, at the pizzetta size equivalent. Which makes them easier to eat whole with hands.

Our expert Isgouhi confirms that the Secrets of Cooking recipe is pretty much what she has always done with some minor modifications. You can also make this vegetarian by omitting the meat.

ingredients

pita bread dough
1 1/4oz package dry yeast (1 level T according to Isgouhi)
1/2 c warm water
1 t sugar
4 1/2 c unbleached all-purpose flour or 1 c whole wheat flour plus 3 1/2 c all-purpose flour
3/4 t salt
3 t sugar
1 c warm water
3 T vegetable oil [or Crisco]
topping
1 lb ground lamb or beef [half and half!]
1 large green pepper finely chopped
1 16oz can plum tomatoes, crushed [peeled tomatoes better]
1 6oz can tomato paste
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 large onion, finely chopped [2 large onions!]
1/2 c freshly chopped parsley
2 T butter, room temperature
1 t cayenne or to taste
1 t allspice
1 t salt or to taste
1/2 t freshly ground pepper or to taste
optional serving suggestions
lemon wedges for serving, squeeze over top, or optional plain yogurt, spread over center and rolled up to prevent dropping.

instructions

  1. Mix yeast, 1/2 c water and 1 t sugar together completely and let sit about 10 minutes until foamy on top. This is the starter.
  2. The rest can be done by hand or with a food processor or electric mixer, adjusting slightly for each.
  3. Mix together the flour, salt and sugar completely.
  4. Add the starter to the flour mixture and slowly add in the water and oil while mixing by hand or electric power until the dough absorbs the liquids and can be formed into a ball.
  5. Knead the dough a few times and reshape into a ball with floured hands and place it in a lightly oiled (cooking spray) glass or porcelain bowl and turn once to coat top with oil.
  6. Cover with a kitchen towel or plastic wrap and set aside in a draft-free area and let rise for about 2 hours until roughly doubled in size.
  7. Then punch it down and divide into 30 equal parts. Set aside lightly covered for 20 minutes.
  8. Meanwhile, mix all the topping ingredients together in a bowl, then cover and set aside.
  9. Preheat oven to 450 F.
  10. On a lightly floured work surface, rollout each part of the dough into a 6 in circle. Place on baking sheets (enough to keep feeding the oven as they get pulled out). Spread with topping up to 1/4 in of the perimeter (it's a circle, remember?). Bake for 5 to 8 minutes.
  11. Serve hot or at room temperature. [They can be lightly warmed in an oven, but the microwave tends to toughen the flexible crust.]
  12. Either some freshly squeezed lemon or plain yogurt is a nice flavor accent when served.

notes

  1. These are finger food, to be eaten with the hands.
  2. Double the recipe for a large family. They freeze well, separated by wax paper.
  3. We still need to experiment with white whole wheat flour to improve the good/bad carbohydrate profile. It's a new millennium after all and getting tougher than ever to survive western civilization (for us and them).
  4. Lahmajoon seems to be a common Latin letter spelling for this Armenian word. Here is another version.
  5. Illustrations available.
lamajun.htm: 31-jan-2020 [what, ME cook? 1984 dr bob enterprises]