Lahma Bi Ajeen
These are tiny pizzas covered with meat instead of cheese. They are elegant
enough to serve as warm hors-d'oeuvres at a cocktail party but can also serve
as a savory accompaniment to a bean or lentil soup. My daughters Rachel and Eve and I learned to make lahma
bi ajeen from my friend Sarah Choueka when she visited Urbana from Jerusalem
in May, 1996. Sarah made the whole process seem quite simple as she converted our kitchen table (6 feet by 3 feet) into
a production line. Sarah prepares large batches of lahma bi ajeen and freezes them in
stacks, rolled like coins for a bank deposit, and well-wrapped in plastic or foil.
- 4.5 cups flour
- 1/2 cup solid vegetable shortening
- 3 T. yeast
- 3/4 tsp. salt
- 1.5 T. oil
- 1-1.5 cups warm water (about 100°F.)
Yield: about 80
- 1 pound lean ground beef
- 1 cup catsup
- 3 ounces tomato paste
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1 large white onion, finely chopped
- 1 tsp. ground allspice
- 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
Mix all dough ingredients well. Knead for a few moments. Set aside
to rest while preparing filling. Mix all the filling ingredients. Preheat
the oven to 400°F.
Since you will be preparing a large number of these, it makes sense to work
on a large, clean surface. The kitchen table is perfect. Roll half the dough
to 1/8 inch thickness on a clean table.
Use a glass, 2-2.5 inches in diameter to cut circles of dough.
Place these circles on a well oiled baking sheet. Work the remaining dough
into a ball, and roll it out to cut more circles. Keep combining the circle
cutouts until you have used all the dough.
Place 1.5 tsp. filling on each circle. With a fork, carefully smooth
filling to the edge of the circle. It's fine for the lahma bi ajeen to touch
each other in the pan, but they cannot overlap.
Bake for about 20 minutes, or until dough is just firm but not crisp.
Serve with tehina and soup or salad for a first course.