Hye Thyme Cafe: Lahmejune (Armenian Pizza - Quick Version)

Welcome to the Hy
e Thyme Cafe. Although not all of my recipes are Armenian, the name is a little nod to my Armenian grandmother who is no longer with us. The Hye refers to all things related to her homeland, and she represents all things food-related to me, so the two just seemed to go together. I can't even claim that my Armenian recipes are truly Armenian, since Greece, Turkey, Armenia, Lebanon, Syria, and even Egypt share so many foods that they've all sort of morphed into one over thousands of years.

Whether you like to cook, bake, have never done either, or just like to play with your food...come on in and join me! :)


Saturday, May 21, 2011

Lahmejune (Armenian Pizza - Quick Version)

Lahmejune : Hye Thyme Cafe


As I mentioned in my Meatball Poppers post the other day, since we ended up having Spaghetti and Meatballs the night I picked up the ground beef for the poppers and used those meatballs rather than making the minis I had intended, we used the ground beef to make Lahmejune the next day instead. Some of you may be familiar with it as Lahmacun or Pide. This is most typically referred to as Armenian Meat Pizza. Whatever you want to call IT, just be sure to call ME when there is any around cuz I can't get enough! Unfortunately, my favorite Lahmejune is found at Massis Bakery and Specialty Store in Watertown, Massachusetts - just outside of Boston. I grew up in MA, so that was very convenient. Now that I live in NY, not so much. :(

You know it's good when you consider the childhood trauma I endured over it. Sniffle, sniffle, sob ... when other kids were trading Bologna sandwiches for their friend's PB&J, I was getting weird looks. LOL. Either that, or someone would dare to take a taste, which would spark someone else to jump in and I'd eventually end up with nothing. I even had teachers eating my lunch back in elementary school. What would Jamie Oliver have to say about that? ;)

I made it from scratch once or twice a million years ago with my Mom, but by the time you get through with everything, knowing that we could so easily get it from Massis back then, it hardly seemed worth the effort. Thanks to George Duran's common sense, we now have a "cheat" version using flour tortillas for the crust. I'm surprised that never occurred to me. For that matter, I'm surprised I never tried it with store-bought pizza dough. Then again, maybe it did occur to me at some point, but I assumed it wouldn't be close enough to the real deal. It was my sister who actually pushed to try this version.

You don't even need a bowl. Just a food processor, a spoon and some elbow room.


INGREDIENTS : (Slightly modified from GD's version.)
2 cloves garlic
1 med onion, roughly chopped
1 sm green bell pepper, roughly chopped
1 lb ground lamb (or beef - pictured with beef)
6 oz tomato paste
14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
1/4 c parsley
1 t cumin
1/4 t cayenne pepper
1/2 t allspice
1 t paprika
1/4 t salt
1/4 t pepper
flour tortillas (makes about a dozen)


Pulse the garlic, onion, and bell pepper in the food processor to chop. If they give off a lot of liquid, go ahead and either pour some off, or blot it with a paper towel to soak some up. You don't want the mixture to end up so wet that it steams. Add everything but the tortillas to the bowl and process to a paste-like consistency.

Put a big spoonful in the center of a tortilla and use the back of a spoon to sort of press and spread it toward the edges. It should be just a thin layer, and you want to make sure you get pretty close to the edge because it will shrink up some as it cooks.


Lahmejune : Hye Thyme CafeLahmejune : Hye Thyme Cafe

Bake at 400 for 8-12" until the topping is cooked and the edges are golden. You want to be careful in placing them in your oven so they don't fall between the racks. If you have a cooling rack that fits in your oven, you might want to bake them on that since the rows are closer together (a little insurance against spills). I like mine any way I can get them - soft, crisp, hot, cold, you name it! If you like your pizza extra crispy around the edges, go ahead and pop the broiler on for a few seconds at the end.
 People eat these all kinds of ways. Sometimes I'll top them with thin slices of tomato, or add the tomato and melt cheese over the top. My sister loves them with String Cheese and Mint. Other people cover them with fresh herbs and roll them into a tube.

I just looked up and noticed the Dunkin Donuts cup in that last picture. I swear this site is NOT sponsored by Dunkin Donuts! LOL. I joke about being a Dunkin Junkie, but judging by the number of pictures I have cropped these cups out of, maybe I really am?? Heck, I even got hit by a car walking to my office a few years back and managed to hang onto my coffee!

Once we established that this recipe successfully served to curb our Lahmejune craving between trips to Boston, I started thinking about other "easy" applications. I decided to try an appetizer version replacing the tortillas with layers of biscuit dough. Yup, I resorted to a tube. Peel the biscuits apart into the thinnest layers you can and top with the meat mixture. You need to go all the way out to the edges if you use the biscuit dough because, not only does the meat mixture shrink some as it cooks, but the biscuit dough rises and expands. The first few I baked off looked like bullseyes! If you plan to try this version, be sure to bake them off just before serving. The biscuit dough is best fresh out of the oven. If it sits too long, it loses its light crispy texture.

Lahmejune : Hye Thyme Cafe

Lahmejune : Hye Thyme Cafe

Pictured here with a mint leaf and crumbled feta. You might want to try a cherry tomato half and string cheese, or some diced orange and yellow bell pepper ...




22 comments:

  1. Looks great, Chris! Pizza-like food is yummy from whatever culture it comes from. I love all of the interesting combinations!

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  2. If you're ever in Boston, stop by Massis and try out the real thing. AWESOME!! Dani might have a good one near her. There are lots of "Amos" out in CA too. :)

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  3. Made this last night. Made me remember my mother in law. She would always buy these frozen whenever she was able and bring back enough for the whole family. Thanks Paddy Pizappi

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  4. That just reminded me of all the trips to New Orleans before I moved there. We'd bring lahmejune, basturma, sujouk, tourshi, lamb, you name it! Not sure why we had to bring them lamb now that I think about it. They must have been able to get it there?!? The trade-off was them bringing us Popeye's when they would visit. Hardly seems like a fair trade! ;)

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  5. I've used George's recipe too! We get Lahmejune from Los Angeles (Glendale) from my husband's parents. LOVE it! Here in Minneapolis. the Armenian group orders it once a year (from the East Coast)...so expense that way, so this recipe is a great alternative. We like a squeeze of lemon juice on it, roll it up with lettuce...so many possibilities.

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  6. Lettuce??? That's a new one on me! LOL I'm trying to "taste" that in my mind but just can't get it. I'll try to remember that next time. I know, it's funny - seems like all the Armenians are in CA or MA. I miss having access to all those great bakeries around Boston, but I'm lucky to have a Lebanese Restaurant nearby where I can get some ingredients. I know what you mean about the shipping! I had that problem when I was living in New Orleans. At least being in NY now, I get to MA now and again.

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  7. We bought some Armenian pizza at a place in Watervliet, NY, near Albany:

    http://www.homenetmen-albany.org/index.html

    They have food sales a couple/few times a year. The pizza we bought was cold or frozen, came in bags of 12 or 18 (not sure), and the print on the bag gave us the impression they came from some place in New Jersey. We had a choice of hot or mild, and even the mild was a little too spicy for my girlfriend. LOL. If I remember correctly, you can also pre-order the pizza to make sure they don't run out before you get there.

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    1. Thanks for the info! I'll have to keep and eye on their website for events. I'm bummed there was a dinner in May I would have gone to had I known about it. :(

      When I was growing up around Boston, the bakeries there had either plain or garlic as I recall. Now you can get beef, lamb, chicken, vegetable, garlic, no garlic ...

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  8. First, thanks so much for stopping by my blog! And second, you have made me sooo happy with this recipe!!! My uncle is Aremenian and we had Armenian pizza MANY times when I went to visit. Last year I had asked my cousin if she had this recipe and she didn't. I found one on the web but it didn't taste quite the same. I can't wait to try this one out! When we would have it, my aunt always served a simple green salad tossed with a vinagrette. You piled the salad in the tortilla and rolled it up burrito style to eat. yum!

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    1. You just totally FREAKED ME OUT!!! I was just about to post a comment on a Facebook page discussing stolen recipes, etc. I was about to mention this one - that shows up on someone else's blog AND Facebook page. Obviously, I've posted it on the web, so it's here for all to see, but don't steal someone else's stuff and claim it as your own. They have the recipe, the photo AND the MEMORY I described above. Some people!!! GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR

      Definitely try it with the tortillas. I like it on the biscuit dough, but it definitely has a different taste that way. Hope it's close to what you're used to. :)

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  9. I saw the comment someone made about putting lettuce on their lahmejune...that's the way we do it too sometimes. Always a squirt of lemon, sometimes a leaf of romaine.

    I like using the tortillas as the dough, but find that after cooking them, I need to let the stack sit and steam a bit so the tortillas soften up enough to be rolled properly. That doesn't happen when made from scratch.

    FYI, even here in NC we have a Jerusalem Market about 45 minutes away that sells Kupelian's brand so when I need the real deal, we make the pilgrimage. :)

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    1. OK, so you're all WEIRD putting lettuce on y our Lahmejune! ;) I wish Boston was only 45" away so I could stock up more often. Someone (can't remember who offhand) recently pointed me to an online Armenian grocer. It's probably cheaper for me just to stock up on my Boston trips, but might come in handy sometime, or for others ...
      http://www.armeniangroceries.com/

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  10. I ran across your this recipe, realized that I had all ingredients in my kitchen, & made the topping for the following night's dinner. IT WAS DELICIOUS! and incredibly easy using the tortillas as a base. Topped some with feta cheese & fresh spinach & others with sharp cheddar & fresh spinach (determined to use up all of the "on sale" spinach).

    Will be making this often. Thank you for such a great recipe-

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    1. So glad you enjoyed it! Now that you bring it up, I haven't made these in a while myself ... might have to do something about that! Now you've got me curious about the spinach. I'll have to try that too. If I had a stockpile of fresh spinach I got on sale, I would probably chop and freeze it in small portions for future use. If you're just trying to use up a little, it's great in a frittata or top a pizza crust with some pesto, ricotta, mozzarella, onion and spinach - YUM!!

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  11. So glad you posted this recipe. Growing up we always got our lahmajun from Assadourian's Bakery in Fairview, NJ. Still buy it there when I'm in town visiting family and my mom flies it to Texas when she visits.

    When I was pregnant, I was craving it so bad, my husband and I made it from scratch one day. It took forever, but was delicious. Now that I have a 15 month old, I have no time. I cannot WAIT to try this recipe. Shnorhagallem!

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  12. Glad to know it's not just us getting funny looks on airplanes flying around with this stuff. We always had to take that, sujouk, basterma, etc. to our cousins in New Orleans. ;)

    Glad to know about Assadourian's. My brother-in-law is in NJ a lot on business, so I'll have to see how close that is - maybe he can make stops there since I don't get to Boston as often as I used to. Thanks!

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  13. OK, I had to make this tonight, because I couldn't stop thinking about your recipe. It was delicious! I also drained the diced tomatoes before adding them, and that helped keep the finished product nice and crispy.

    My 15 month-old and his 2 1/2 year-old buddy devoured it, too.

    Next up, your Simit cookies!

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    Replies
    1. Yay, so glad to hear that. And it's the perfect time to make the Simit - leaves you time closer to Christmas to do other things, but if you've got a good tin to store it in, it should still be fine ... if there's any left! :)

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  14. Hi, thank you for this easy version of the Armenian pizza I love it, but have been intimidated by the long version recipe, I went to Istanbul last year and ate these every chance I had. Today I tried your recipe and it was so easy with the tortillas, delicious, thanks again, looking forward to trying some of your other recipes.

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    1. So glad you liked it! It definitely comes in handy when you can't get to wherever your "original/favorite" is. For me, that will always be Massis Bakery in Watertown, MA. Right up there with the tortillas is Lavash (flat bread) for the dough if you can find it in your markets. That's probably one step closer to the original than the tortillas, but either one gets the job done. :)

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  15. My daughter loves it on pizza dough rolled out thin.

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    Replies
    1. I made it on pizza dough once, but we had a power failure a few minutes after it went in the oven, and I was afraid I was going to poison myself lol.

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