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Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Hungry for Lahmajoun? Take a shortcut!

Lahmajoun on Flour Tortilla
Back in 1969, when I borrowed Roy Callan’s mother’s cookbook for my college food project, the recipe I chose to make was Lahmajoun.

It was labor-intensive, preparing the dough from scratch, chopping all of the vegetables by hand, and making enough for a class of 25, plus faculty. The accolades we received, however, made it all worthwhile.

In my later years, I learned an invaluable tip from a dear, departed friend who once lived in California. “Why don’t you make lahmajoun using the short-cut method?” she asked.

Short-cut? This I wanted to hear.

She told me that the Armenian ladies she knew out West made it using flour tortillas as the base. Flour Tortillas? BRILLIANT! Just make the topping, spread it on the tortilla, then bake.

OK, it’s not exactly like the commercially prepared version, but it sure is an easy way to make it when the craving strikes!

Lahmajoun
Yield: about 12 - 14

2 (10-count) pkg. 8” flour tortillas

Topping Ingredients
1 lb. ground lamb or beef (or a combination of the two)
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 medium red pepper, finely chopped
1/2 small green pepper, finely chopped
½ bunch parsley, washed well, finely chopped
1 - 15 oz can diced tomatoes, drained well
2 Tbsp. tomato paste or red pepper paste
1 to 2 Tbsp flour
1 ½ tsp dried mint
1 clove garlic, minced (optional)
1 ½ tsp salt
1 tsp sweet paprika
dash cayenne pepper

1. To save time, process the onion, peppers, and parsley in a food processor, using the metal “S” blade. Squeeze out any excess liquid - this is VERY important! Be careful not to over-process. Vegetables should still be a bit chunky, not pureed.
2. In a large bowl, combine all of the topping ingredients, mixing well.
3. Preheat oven to 400° - 425°F.
4. Thinly spread 2 to 3 Tbsp. of meat topping over the top of each tortilla.
5. Place 2 to 3 tortillas on each baking tray. They should not overlap each other.
6. Bake on the lower rack for about 5 minutes, then on the upper rack, for another 5 minutes, or until the meat topping has browned, and the edges of the tortilla are golden.
7. Continue this procedure until topping is all used.
To Serve:
Place thin slices of sweet onion, and chopped parsley in the center of the lahmajoun, fold, and eat!
To Freeze:
After baking and cooling, stack lahmajouns, with plastic wrap in between
each one. Place in plastic freezer bags & seal tightly.
To Reheat:
Preheat oven to 400° to 425°F. Remove plastic wrap, stack in pairs, meat sides facing each other. Heat for about 5-7 minutes. Turn once during reheating.

37 comments:

  1. Warning: reading this blog will make you hungry!

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  2. I made lahmajoun the other day using pita bread instead of homeade dough - I was going to cut the pitas in half but they were thin enough and fragile enough that I just used them whole - placed the meat mixture on top baked - and they were delicious -

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  3. Yes indeed! Using pita bread is another easy way to get your lahmajoun fix. Thanks, Walter!

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  4. Thanks for reminiding me its time to make lahmajoon. :) Mom makes them with pita method, Grandma and I prefer just rolling the dough. Also, to add I usually omit the mint in my version for those of you who arent big mint fans.

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  5. Absolutely, Mike. Mint is an optional ingredient, but if you like it, mint gives lahmajoun that "something special" taste.

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  6. Wow, this is spot-on. My family never made lahmajoun (too much work, even for the Aunties who had no problem with labor-intensive paklava), but we'd get it at weddings and some larger family events. I made this recipe for the family xmas get-together last week, and the flavour was *exactly* what we grew up with. *Exactly*. Better than the stuff you can get in MA. Thanks, Robyn

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  7. I'm so glad this recipe was such a hit! Now you can have lahmajoun any time you want - no muss, no fuss.
    Happy New Year!

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  8. I tried pita some time ago and it came out hard. So I gave up. Today I bought a bunch of tortilla and will try them. I am discouraged. I would also like to try the tortilla to make zaatar pies. It's the flexible soft dough I am trying to accomplish. Anyway thanks for the tips.

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  9. Gary,
    Don't be discouraged! Give the flour tortillas a try. You know they'll taste good! If that doesn't work for you, (and I hope it will) another option is to purchase prepared bread/pizza dough. Many grocery stores or Italian markets sell it. This might provide the softness and flexibility you're after. All you'll need to do is separate the dough into balls, roll out each ball of dough, top each, and bake. In the meantime, I'd love to hear how your tortilla version comes out.

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  10. Hi Robyn:

    Thanks for the encouragement. I will report on the 'tortilla lahmajoun'. I just stocked up on white flour tortilla. Making the meat topping is a job by itself I suppose. Am I up to it?

    I have been buying, from a bakery, 6 "pizza shells". Didn't know until recently that they were 'partially baked' when I get them. They work real good for pizza. But not 'rollable' like I am after for the lahmajoun. I usually make a huge veggie salad (no lettuce, celery, or other water based)The bakery told me they make this shell for the Greek fast food chain stores we have here (Calgary)called Opa. Apparently they quick pan fry the pizza shell to stuff the souvlaki, pork, chicken,+tzatziki sauce. etc. Soft shell and tasty. I haven't been successful in keeping it soft.

    I use the veggies for pizza topping and to mix with ground beef, chicken or simply as a hearty salad with yogurt+spices like oregano, pepper, sumac, garlic etc.

    I think pita may be even better than totilla. I neglected greasing the cookie sheet when I did the pita long time ago. It came out hard. Another thing to try. Will let you know.

    Still learning folks. Happy New Year to all!

    G

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  11. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  12. It's not exactly lahmajoun, but the Lebanese have a dish called "arayes" (it means "brides").

    In the Lebanese version, you prepare a meat stuffing (like you would for stuffed keuftah), add chopped tomatoes, and stuff it in a pita that you cut in half (making a crescent). You toast or grill the resulting sandwich.

    It just occurred to me you could do exactly the same thing using lahmajoun topping (in fact, the recipe is not all that different). Then you don't have to worry about the pita getting hard.

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  13. Or I would just mail order some lahmajoun from one of the bakeries in LA. Sasoun Bakery is particularly recommended. If you freeze them right away, they will last practically forever.

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  14. Some excellent options, Ara. I'm getting hungry!

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  15. Greetings, Thats how wifie makes lahmajoun. The topping mixture isn't ground fine like mirig's but if I complain she might stop making it. Nice site. God bless you. Dn. Richard Charshafian

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  16. Thanks Robyn and Walter (for the pita idea!) and to keep it soft, I may cover in foil for part of the baking. I miss my Yaya's Armenian pizza so much. I can still smell it; it had a pretty unique aroma. Oh I miss it! Aaaaah! I'm having a Lamajoun attack!
    Mark Newman
    Ottumwa, IA

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  17. Lahmajoun to me brings back good memories of eating them hot from the Armenian bakery in Beirut and squeezing lemons on them: I could easily eat half a dozen in one sitting!
    I saw a recipe for them in Sunset magazine years ago that I clipped that used these flour tortillas; apparently ladies in Fresno did this at the Armenian festival. I love lahmajoun so much that I would not mind making them from scratch but your version is more realistic: after all I have never made them from scratch, and it has been a mere 30 years.

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    1. yes me too! I have been searching for a recipe for it for a very long time and yay luckily I stumbles across the idea in a cooking game I play haha now to get the motivation to make it I cant wait I so loved the early morning bakeries in beirut eating them still warm and fresh mmmm :)

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  18. @tasteofbeirut --- when I was growing up, my grandmother lived in Fresno and thanks to her, I always associate lahmajoun with being baked atop flour tortillas. Maybe it is a Fresno thing!

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  19. I need the recipe of the dough. Can someone give it to me? I have tried some of the recipes but it doesn´t taste lahmajoon. I will be really greatuful.

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  20. Lahmajoun Dough:
    from Robyn@TheArmenianKitchen.com

    1 package dry, granular yeast
    ½ tsp. sugar
    ½ cup lukewarm water (about 105° 110° F) or more, if needed
    3 cups all purpose flour or more, if needed
    1 tsp. salt
    3 Tbsp. vegetable oil or melted butter

    Dough Directions:

    1. Dissolve yeast and sugar in ½ cup lukewarm water. Set aside for a few minutes.
    2. In a large mixing bowl, stir together flour and salt. Make a well in the center of the dough; stir in the yeast mixture and vegetable oil or melted butter. Mix, adding more warm water if necessary. Dough should not be sticky.
    3. Knead dough for 5 to 10 minutes until smooth and elastic, adding more flour, if needed.
    4. Place dough in a large bowl that’s been lightly greased with oil. Turn dough to coat all over with oil.
    5. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and a towel. Place bowl in a place free of drafts; allow to rise for about 1 ½ to 2 hours, or until doubled in size.
    6. After 1 ½ to 2 hours, punch dough down; divide into about 14 equal portions. Shape each portion into balls and allow to rest for 5 to 10 minutes. Roll each ball into about a six inch circle.
    7. Place 2 to 3 dough circles on a greased baking sheet circles should not overlap. Spread 2 or 3 Tbsp. of topping on each spreading evenly to the edge of the dough.
    8. Bake in a preheated 450° F oven on the lower rack for about 5 minutes, then on the upper rack for another 7 to 8 minutes, or until meat is cooked and dough is golden around the edges. Since oven temperatures vary, watch closely.
    9. Continue until all dough/topping mixture have been used.

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  21. @Sara-Oh no, flour tortilla lahmajoun isn't a Fresno Armenian thing. :) My Armenian grandparents (who lived in So Cal)were big on the flour tortilla lahmajouns too. I remember my sister and I making it with them as kids, and my grandfather re-doing my lahmajoun attempt because I put the mixture on too thick.
    This site is fun!

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  22. Greta recipe, thank you. I recently tried lahmajoun in Vancouver, Canada - http://lamajoun.com. For some reason they called it "La majoun" but I have never ever tried anything better.

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    1. This guy is shilling for this website all over the web.

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  23. I would never consider making lahmajoun with tortillas. The fresh dough gives a very different flavor and texture, and is worth the effort. Well, I always make too much meat mixture, so the next day I'll use tortillas, or toast, or fry the mixture and scramble it with eggs. But fresh dough first.

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    1. Guerrero makes fresh,uncooked tortillas. 10 in a pack at supermarkets.

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    2. Really?? What stores? and in what states?

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  24. I have made Lahmajoun from scratch two times recently and it was delicious. I made the dough from scratch and used beef instead of lamb. I also hand chopped everything as the chopper makes it watery. I baked it six minutes on
    Lower rack and six minutes on upper rack. It cannot be the same with tortillas because of the flavor.

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  25. what about using Bridgeford Frozen Rolls?

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    1. You ask a good question, June. I've never tried using frozen rolls. Would you care to try and report back?

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  26. I'M STILL LOOKING FOR MY GRANDMOTHER OLIVE BREAD. IT LOOKED SOMETHING LIKE LAHMAJOUN BUT WITHOUT THE MEAT AND THE REST. JUST MADE WITH OLIVES AND OLIVE OIL. ABSOLUTELY TO DIE FOR

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  27. Thank you for the recipe of lamajoun. I recently tried one in Vancouver, Canada http://lamajoun.com and it was very yummy, but I don't think they add mint there.

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  28. I found a recipe years ago that used Pillsbury biscuit dough. You roll out a biscuit thin, then place the topping on top and bake. Fantastic!
    When I was a girl, my family used to buy them from a bakery on Adams street in L.A. I have no idea if it is still there or the name of the bakery.
    This recipe makes smaller lamajouns which are just the right size for appetizers or lunch.

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  29. I've not found a commercially prepared dough can be used to replicate my grandmother's lahmajoun, which I consider the best (NO bias here!!!). That said, all of these suggestions are great for less labor intensive versions. Imho, the best tasting and textured version comes from using frozen bread, pizza or "dinner roll" dough and taking the time and effort to roll it out to whatever thickness you like and proceed from there.

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  30. Can someone help m with this info, I recall reading somewhere a while back about the history of lahmajoun, that the Armenians brought them into Syria after the Armenian Genocide and it then took on the Arabic name, but it used to also have an Armenian name as well, does anyone know it?

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    1. Hi Hamlet,
      Here's a link to an article we wrote about lahmajoun and a comment by a reader:
      http://araratmagazine.org/2011/10/lahmajoun-the-carefully-crafted-centerpiece/
      There's also an explanation in the book, "Armenian Food - Fact, Fiction, and Folklore", by Irina Petrosian. She states that it's called lahmajo in Armenia, and that Arabs call it labmah ed ajeen. Petrosian also states that native Armenians referred to this as 'Akhparakan dish' because repatriates were referred to as akhpars, or brothers. In addition, she mentions that repatriates from Aleppo introduced lahmajoun to Soviet Armenians in the 1960's. She also noted that Armenians in Aleppo, who dominated the pastry and bread trade, were known for these famous meat pies.

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    2. Another name for lahmajoun ... 'mesashod', as mentioned in the cookbook, "Armenian Cuisine" by Aline Kamakian and Barbara Drieskens

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