"Lahm Bi Ajin" or Sfiha pastries are among the most loved pastries (Muajanat) in the Middle East. Lahm Bi Ajin is very popular in the whole region from Armenia and Turkey in the north, through Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Palestine, extending to the Gulf countries in the south, and spreading to north Africa. "Lahm bi Ajin" has many names including “Sfiha", "Lahmajun", "Lahmacun", "Meat Pies", "Meat Pizzas".
Although each country prepares these yummy meat pies in its own way, the basic method is the same: yeast dough with minced meat topping or filling. The difference is in the spices, meat marinade, and crust. Many prepare Lahm Bi Ajin with extra thin crust and the pies prepared that way are called Armenian Sfiha or Armenian Lahmajun. Others prepare it with a somewhat thicker crust; by thicker I don't mean a thick crust, but thick when compared to the paper thin one used in the Armenian version. The most popular way for preparing Lahm Bi Ajin in Jordan, Lebanon and Syria is using the thicker crust.
I remember that before I learnt how to prepare Lam Bi Ajin at home we used to order it from restaurants. We used to order Armenian Lahmajun or Aleppeian Sfeeha. I am not sure how the Aleppian version differs from my Sfiha Recipe. I learned how to prepare Lahm Bi Ajin from my sister-in-law, who helped me overcome my fear of preparing pastries or muajanat at home.
Today's portion is very generous! When I prepare it, I freeze half the amount and when needed, I take them straight out of the freezer and line them on a greased cookie sheet, and bake in a hot oven for about 10-15 minutes, or until hot.
Lahm Bi Ajin Recipe (Sfiha Recipe)
Prep time: 30 minutes Cook time: 30 minutes
2 portions of the Pizza Dough Recipe, or 2 portions of the Basic Yeast Dough Recipe
500 grams minced meat (veal, lamb, or mixed)
1/4 cup oil (corn, sunflower or canola)
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped or crushed
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
2 teaspoon salt
4-5 big tomatoes , diced into small cubes
1 green bell pepper, finely chopped
1 hot green pepper, finely chopped (adjust quantity to your taste)
1½ tablespoon tomato paste
2 teaspoons pomegranate molasses
2 tablespoons tahini (sesame paste); (optional)
2 tablespoons fresh mint, finely chopped
1/3 cup pine nuts
How to make Lahm Bi Ajin (Sfiha)
- Heat the oil and add the chopped onions. Sauté onions until soft (before it changes its color). When onions are soft, add the minced meat, allspice, cinnamon, black pepper, paprika, and cardamom. Mix and toss until the meat is cooked.
- When the meat is cooked and most of the meat juices evaporate (as the meat cooks it releases a lot of juices), we add the salt, chopped bell pepper, and chopped chilies.
- Toss and mix over heat for two minutes.
- Add the chopped tomatoes, tomato paste, pomegranate molasses, and tahini paste. Mix well and simmer over medium heat until half tomato water evaporates. Be careful not to cook it to the point that all the tomato water evaporates, as when the meat filling cools it will condense, and we want there to be enough water that when the filling cools it remains slightly moist.
- Close the fire, then add the chopped fresh mint and the pine nuts. Mix well.
- Set the meat filling aside to cool.
- Prepare the dough as per the recipe instructions. Use either the Pizza Dough Recipe, or the Basic Yeast Dough Recipe or you can use your favorite yeast dough recipe.
- When the dough is ready, grease with oil the sheets you want to use for baking.
- Put a little of oil in the palm of your hand and rub your hands with it. Then form small balls of dough. To form the balls, I hold a large piece of dough in the palm of my hand and squeeze small balls out between the opening of my thumb and pointer fingers - See the explanatory pictures in my Fresh Thyme Biscuit Bread Recipe.
- After preparing all the mini balls, with fingers press on each ball to flatten it.
- Set aside for 10 minutes for the dough to rest.
- Top each ball with a layer of meat filling.
- Bake the Lahm Bi Ajin in preheated oven at 350°F for 20 minutes, or until crust is cooked.
- While baking, enjoy the lovely aroma that fills your house!
Hope you enjoyed today's easy recipe: Lam Bi Ajin Recipe (Sfiha Recipe), a traditional Middle Eastern pastry. Bon appetite.
Have you ever had Lahm Bi Ajin? Which one, Armenian Lahmajun, the Lebanese Lahm Bi Ajin, or the Syrian version of Lahm Bi Ajin, or the Jordanian Sfiha?
اضغط الرابط لقراءة وصفة لحمة بعجين (وصفة الصفيحة) باللغة العربية