What’s Cookin’ – Lahmajoon (Armenian Pizza)

One of my favorite Armenian dishes is Lahmajoon, the Armenian version of pizza.  When I lived in Boston, you could buy these at a local Armenian bakery.  As I recall it, they would make lamejun (their spelling) on Thursdays, and it was first come, first served.  They were sold in the little square bakery boxes and would disappear almost as soon as they made it home.

As I was looking at my hand written recipes from Gram (read about Gram here), I thought about these, too.  Gram never made them, as far as I remember, probably because they were sold at the local bakery, but I did find several recipes in the local church cookbook that I have on my bookshelf.  So I re-created the recipe, using modern methods, and the ingredients and flavors that I remember from Eastern Lamejun Bakers in Belmont, MA.

I don’t know why I never tried making these before because they are almost easier to make than homemade pizza.  The thinly rolled dough comes out crispy and is reminiscent of the thin crust St. Louis style pizza dough that is loved locally but sneered at by pizza snobs from Chicago and New York who prefer a more bread-y style crust.

My recipe says to use either ground lamb or beef, but I remember the ones that I had in Boston always being made with lamb so that is what I used, and they were good.  Very good and almost exactly as I remembered them from the bakery in Belmont.

Lahmajoon dough ingredients.

Put the the yeast and sugar in the warm water and allow to sit for 5 to 10 minutes.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the flour, shortening, salt, and yeast mixture.  Using the dough hook, mix on low-speed until completely blended scraping down the sides as necessary.  Turn mixer to medium speed, and knead for 10 minutes until dough is smooth and elastic.  Place the dough ball into a lightly oiled bowl, cover, and allow to rise until doubled in size about 30 to 45 minutes.  Punch down the dough and divide into 12 equal portions.  Cover and allow to rest for 10 minutes until ready to roll, top, and bake.

Lahmajoon meat topping ingredients.

While the dough is rising, prepare the meat mixture by placing all of the ingredients into a bowl.  Drain any excess fluid.

Combine well and refrigerate until ready to use.

Preheat the oven to 450° F.  Place one oven rack on the lowest level of the oven, and another rack about ⅓rd from the top.  Lightly coat sheet pans with cooking spray and set aside.

Roll each dough portion into a 7″ circle and place on the lightly greased sheet pans.  You can tell that my shapes are not quite circles.  Just refer to them as rustic.  Divide the meat mixture into 12 equal portions and top each dough circle.  Spread the meat mixture over the dough evenly.  It will be a very thin layer of meat.

Bake on the lowest rack for 10 minutes.  Move to the upper rack and bake for another 5 minutes.  The Lahmajoon will be nicely golden browned.  Remove from the oven and to a rack to cool completely.

The Lahmajoon are usually eaten cooled or at room temperature, but they may be reheated in a preheated 325° F oven for 5 minutes.

Once they are cooled, they may be stacked, meat sides facing and stored in the refrigerator.  They will keep several days in the refrigerator.

If you have never eaten lamb, you don’t know what you are missing.  This is a good first way to try it, though, if you have never had it before.


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