Lahmajoun – Armenian Flatbreads with Meat

Lahma means meat, ajin means dough. Go figure!
Lahma means meat, ajin means dough. Go figure!

«Lahm» means meat and «ajin» means dough. Not much can go wrong with this combination. Lahmajoun is part of a treasured childhood memory. Whenever my mom brought home these spicy,meaty flatbreads, my sister and I would leap with joy. Years later, my sister and I decided to learn how to make them ourselves. Armenians use mostly beef mince, while Turks use lamb. We used a combination of the two and it worked very well. However the key ingredient to this fantastic dish is sweet red pepper paste. This paste is not very easy to find but its very easy to make. Check out my recipe for red pepper paste if you feel like making some. You don’t have to, if you havent got the time, but this paste adds «magic». While they bake, slice a lot of lemons. As soon as they are out of the oven, let them cool a little, then squeeze some lemon, wrap, eat, repeat.

For the dough

  • 1 kg unbleeched flour
  • 3 tsp instant yeast ganules (11gr)
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 4 tbs olive oil
  • 3 cups water

For the topping

  • 200gr minced lamb
  • 300gr minced beef (alternatively you can use 500gr minced beef and ommit the lamb)
  • 5 large tomatoes, pureed in a blender (approx. 750gr)
  • 1 cup finely chopped parsley
  • 1 red pepper (capsicum) very finely chopped
  • 1 green pepper very finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 large onions, very finely chopped
  • 1 tbs each red pepper paste and tomato paste (or 2 tbs tomato paste)
  • 1 tbs paprica
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • salt to taste

Method

Put all ingredients for the topping in a large bowl. Mix very well with your hands. Mixture will not be too thick but thats ok. Put mince mixture in the fridge until needed. Its actually better if you do this the night before.

Prepare the dough. In a large bowl (or in a mixer bowl fitted with the dough hook) put the flour with the yeast. Mix briefly and add the salt. Mix again. You do this, so as not to let the salt come in direct contact with the yeast, as it will kill it. Make a well in the centre and add the water and olive oil. Mix everything together until a soft dough forms. If its too sticky add some more flour. Slightly oil a large bowl and put in the dough. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and let the dough rise slightly for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 250 C fan (480 F). Divide dough in to small balls (approx. 50gr each). Take 4 balls. Roll each ball into a thin circle, about the size of a dessert plate. Spread each circle with a full tablespoon (60-70gr) of the topping, using the back of the spoon to press down lightly. Repeat until you have four «Lahmajoun». Put the «Lahmajoun» on a baking tray. Bake in the preheated oven for 8-9 minutes. Stack them, alternating one meat side up and one meat side down. Repeat the process untill you use up all the ingredients. This dose makes approximately 35 «lahmajoun».

Serve warm or at room temperature with generous squeeze of fresh lemon juice.

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