Lahmajoon is basically a flat bread with a topping. You could even call it Armenian pizza if you wanted to.
When my family was escaping the Armenian genocide, they had to walk through the desert of Der Zor all the way to Egypt. One of my great-great aunts was crippled and did not survive, but the rest of them did. My great-great grandfather would sew people’s sandals for a few pennies and then my great-great grandmother was able to buy flour and chicken fat. She would make flat bread out of it to feed to her many children and that is how they survived. Lahmajoon would have been an unimaginable luxury to them during that time.
This is my Grandmother’s way of making lahmajoon. I really hope you will try it! If you’re scared of making the dough or just don’t want to, you can use small flour tortillas for the base. It doesn’t taste nearly as good, in my opinion, but it’s easy. This recipe uses lamb traditionally, but you can substitute any ground meat (beef or even turkey) if that’s what you prefer.
6 cups all purpose flour
1 Tbsp. salt
1 Tbsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. shortening
2 packets dry active yeast
1 cup + 1 1/2 cups warm water separated
2 lbs. ground lamb
3 onions, finely chopped
1 large bunch parsley, finely chopped
1 green bell pepper, finely chopped
One 6 oz. can tomato paste
One 8 oz. can tomato sauce
1 Tbsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
To prepare dough:
Mix yeast, sugar and 1 cup warm water and let sit for 10 minutes.
In the meantime, mix flour and salt. With fingers, rub shortening into the flour until evenly incorporated. Stir in yeast mixture. Gradually add remaining warm water. Knead very briefly, just enough to get the dough into a soft ball. Put in greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let double in size.
Punch dough down and form into about 24 small balls. Each ball should roll out flat to slightly smaller than an appetizer plate. Let the balls of dough rise again, doubling in size.
Meat mixture: Just mix everything together in a bowl like you would meatloaf. Your hands work best here.
Roll each ball of dough out as you need them and top with about 2-3 Tbsp of meat mixture covering almost to the edge. Bake at 400F approximately 15 minutes. You really have to keep an eye on them and as soon as the edges start to brown and the meat looks cooked, take them out and get them off the hot pan onto a cooling rack or the bottom will burn.