Some might call Lahmajoun an Armenian Pizza or Flatbread. Some might spell it with a different variation. But I say, don't sweat it... just call it Y-U-M-M-Y! Because this is the perfect, take-with-you-anywhere Armenian meal!
What Ingredients Do I Need to Make Lahmajoun?:
- Bread Dough: My grandma always used the same dough for Lahmajoun that she used for Heavenly Armenian Pita Bread. However, you can take a HUGE shortcut and use either plain flour tortillas for a thinner crust or Greek Pita Flat Bread for a thicker crust.
- Ground Beef or Lamb (not extra-lean) Meat: I would look for either 80/20 or 85/15 meat-to-fat content.
- Canned Whole Tomatoes: San Marzano is a very good variety. You'll want to remove any leftover stems or peel, since you'll be hand crushing these babies.
- Canned Tomato Paste: A pantry staple when it comes to Armenian cooking.
- Fresh Parsley: This is not a time to skimp and used dried in place of fresh.
- Green Peppers: Look for large unblemished peppers.
- Spices: The seasonings are surprisingly simple in this recipe. Salt, black pepper, allspice and a pinch of cayenne. You can also toss crushed red pepper flakes over baked Lahmajoun, if you like an additional kick. (A must for me!)
How Do I Make Lahmajoun?:
Part 1: The Crust
Traditionally, our family has always used the same dough recipe used to make Heavenly Armenian Pita Bread. After combining dough ingredients, allow the dough to rise in a large bowl until double in size. Punch down and allow to rise again until double.
After the second rise, form balls of dough and place on a large surface area between a layer of two bed sheets. Cover top bed sheet with an extra sheet of plastic or a vinyl table cloth, for extra insulation.
Allow the balls of dough to double in size (around 60 minutes).
Roll each ball of dough flat to a thickness of between an ⅛" and ¼".
Lightly press your fingertips into the dough to help flatten the dough and keep from rising during remaining steps.
Part 2: The Meat Mixture
Finely dice the green bell peppers. You might be tempted to use a food processor at this point, but if you do, your mother might wave a wooden spoon over your head and remind you that this isn't the way it's done! (I'm exaggerating about the wooden spoon part.)
In all truth, though, using a food processor will result in mushy green peppers...even if you go to the extra effort of uniformly pre-chopping beforehand and lightly pulsing in the processor. If you still decide to go the food processor route (don't say I didn't warn you!), then place the diced bell peppers between layers of paper towels and squeeze out the extra water content.
Remove the long stems and finely dice the parsley. Same warnings apply to using a food processor!
Combine diced green peppers and parsley in a large bowl and add whole tomatoes. Crush the tomatoes until they break into juicy pieces of goodness. Add the meat, tomato paste, minced garlic and remaining spices and mix altogether.
Place two circles of dough on baking sheet and top with about a ⅓ cup of mixture. Spread the mixture thinly to the edge of the dough.
Bake at 450 degrees F for approximately 7 minutes on lower rack and 7 minutes on higher rack. You can start cooking a new tray when you raise your first tray to the higher rack.
Edges should be lightly crisped with a tender center, perfect for folding in half and stuffing with fresh veggies and watercress––just the way my grandpa Moe used to like to eat them.
How to Store and Reheat Lahmajoun:
- To Store: Layer Lahmajoun between sheets of wax paper and store in a freezer bag up to 5 days.
- To Freeze: Same storage method above. Freeze up to 3 months in a regular freezer or place in a deep freezer up to 6 months. You may want to double up on the freezer bags to keep extra air tight.
- To Reheat. Reheat gently in the microwave or oven. If microwaving, place one Lahmajoun on a plate and reheat for approximately one minute.
Lahmajoun (Armenian Pizza)
- 2 lb ground beef or lamb not extra-lean
- 4-5 green bell peppers
- 2 bunches of fresh parsley curly leaf
- 1 can whole tomatoes 28 oz.
- 1 can tomato paste 6 oz.
- 5-6 cloves of garlic
- 2 ½ tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. black pepper
- dash of cayenne
- Adjust oven racks so that one rack is in top third of oven and a second is in lower third of oven. You will be using both racks.
- Make dough from Heavenly Armenian Pita Bread recipe. Keep dough in a large bowl, covered with plastic wrap, and allow to rise in a warm place until double in size. Punch dough down and allow to rise again until double. You will use half a batch of the dough for this recipe.
- After the second rise, form balls of dough and place on a large surface area between a layer of two bed sheets. Cover top bed sheet with an extra sheet of plastic or a vinyl table cloth, for extra insulation.
- Allow the balls of dough to double in size (around 60 minutes). Meanwhile prepare the meat mixture.
- Finely dice the green bell peppers.
- Remove the long stems from the bunches of parsley and finely dice.
- Combine diced green peppers and parsley in a large bowl and add whole tomatoes. Crush the tomatoes with your hands until they break into tiny pieces. Add the meat, tomato paste, minced garlic, allspice, salt, pepper and dash of cayenne to the bowl. Combine all ingredients thoroughly with your hands or a large spoon.
- Take a ball of dough that has doubled in size and roll flat on a bread board. Roll fairly thin, between a thickness of ⅛ and ¼ of an inch.
- Carefully place flattened dough on a cookie sheet. Put about a ⅓ cup of meat mixture in middle of dough and spread evenly over the top and close to the edges.
- Bake at 450 degrees F on lower rack for 7 minutes. Move to top rack and bake an additional 7 minutes.