As much as I love eating vegetables, sometimes I just can’t resist fresh lamb. I will choose lamb over any other meat. My husband just got some really fresh lamb, and I decided to make a Syrian staple – lachma’jin. I am sure you might find different spellings of the word, but consider this – Hebrew, like Arabic has no written vowels, so the spelling will vary – no worries, the dish is still flavorful!
I took Poopa Dweck’s “Aromas of Alleppo” recipe as a base, but naturally, I had to add something of my own. By the way, the book is an amazing read, especially if you are interested in more than just recipes, but want to know more about the culinary culture of the region, where no more Jews live today – Syria.
So, I had about a pound of ground lamb. I decided that it was a bit too fatty, and added about the same amount of ground turkey.
For the dough, I just took about:
- 4 cups flour (I usually mix white and whole wheat)
- 1 packet active dry yeast dissolved in 1/4 cup warm water
- 1 cup warm water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons oil
- a pinch of turmeric
For the filling:
- 2 pounds raw ground meat (can be beef or lamb, or a combination of two meats, like I had)
- 2 onions diced small (see my note on safely dicing the onion)
- about 1 package tomato paste ( I use Israeli small package)
- juice of one lemon
- 1/2 cup tamarind paste (since I had none this time, I used a bit more lemon and pomegranate sauce)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon allspice
- 1 teaspoon regular black pepper or Allepian pepper if you want to be very authentic
- if you like it like I do – lots of finely diced cilantro and parsley
Make the dough:
In a bowl mix yeast with some warm water. If you want, you can add just a drop of honey (I never use sugar for dough). If in about 7-8 minutes you see your yeast foaming nicely, you can start making your dough, if not – you better through this thing out, and get some fresh yeast, sorry.
In a large bowl, combine flour and salt. Add dissolved yeast and mix well. Add oil and mix again. Gradually add remaining water and knead until a soft dough forms. Do not overdo, the dough will come out too tight.
Cover with a clean towel and let rest in a warm place for one hour or a bit more.
Meanwhile, make the filling:
Mix all the ingredients very well, so that it’s easy to handle.
Once the dough is ready, knead it just a minute more, and separate into pieces about 3 inches in diameter – bigger or smaller – your choice. I don’t even roll the dough, just spread it by your hands, it doesn’t have to be too thin.
Put about 1-2 teaspoonfuls of the filling on top of each dough round.
I like to use parchment paper to line the baking sheet, but this is not necessary. If you don’t have it, just spray the sheet with the oil of your choice.
Bake the lachma’jin at 380-390 F (this depends on your oven) for about 40 minutes.
It’s really delicious. Sprinkle them with pine nuts or other nuts if you want. Pine nuts are really great, but can be quite expensive here in US.
Now, what does a woman do if she accidentally made much more filling than dough?
Good question. I make a roulette. Just roll out the puff pastry dough – this should always have its place in your freezer – and fill it with the meat mixture. Bake the same way, and enjoy now or later. You can freeze the roulette and lachma’jin and warm them up for any Shabbat at about 420 F for 10 minutes or so.