Before food globalisation lahmajoun existed on the fringes of food choices in Greece. You could find it mostly in Armenian restaurants and did not even feature in culinary choices of the part of my family that arrived from Asia Minor. Nowadays it is very much in vogue, and some of the best street food in Athens.
This healthy pizza alternative (without the chilli flakes) is a great dinner idea for kids.
For the dough
- 620g all purpose flour
- 2 tsp sea salt
- 300g milk
- 45g olive oil
- 9g dried yeast dissolved in 3 Tbsp lukewarm water
- 1 tsp caster sugar
For the topping
- 580g minced beef (or lamb or a mixture of both)
- 140g onion
- 80g red bell pepper
- 2 plum tomatoes, deseeded (you can use canned tomatoes)
- 1 clove of garlic (optional)
- 20g parsley leaves
- 40g olive oil
- 2 Tbsp tomato paste
- 2tsp sweet paprika
- 2tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tsp dried chilli flakes (optional)
- 1 tsp sea salt
Start with the dough. Add the sugar to the dissolved yeast and stir. Set aside for about 10 minutes until frothy.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the flour with the salt. Make a well in the middle and add the milk, olive oil and the yeast mixture. Using the hook attachment mix on low speed for about 3 -4minutes until a dough forms. Add some more lukewarm water or flour if necessary. Cover with a tea towel and let it rise in a warm place for about 1 hour until it doubles in size.
To make the topping process the onion, pepper, deseeded plum tomatoes, garlic (if using) and parsley leaves in a food processor until everything is well ground but not pureed. Strain through a sieve and discard any excess liquid. Add the ground vegetables, the olive oil, tomato paste and the spices to the minced beef and mix with your hands until everything is mixed thoroughly.
Place the pizza stone on the bottom rack of a cold oven and turn the oven to 200°C .
Divide the risen dough into 16 balls. Lightly flour your work surface and roll each ball into a thin disc, about 2mm thick and 18-20cm in diameter.
Place the discs, one at a time, on a very well floured moveable, slick cutting board to help you transfer the lahmajoun to the hot pizza stone once it is topped. Divide the topping into 16 portions and spread the topping evenly with your fingers to the edge of the discs.
Transfer one lahmajoun at a time to the pizza stone (this can be tricky, you may need the help of a spatula to guide the crust onto the heated stone) and bake for about 4- 5 minutes, or until meat is cooked and dough is golden around the edges.Since oven temperatures vary, watch closely.
If you do not use a pizza stone, preheat the oven to 200ºC, place the lahmajouns on a baking tray lined with baking parchment and bake for about 10-15 minutes.
Repeat with remaining dough and topping.
Serve warm.You can roll them and eat them plain, or topped with chopped parsley and a drizzle of lemon juice.
Once cool, lahmajouns freeze very well with clingfilm between each one, sealed in plastic freezer bags for several weeks.