• Nava

Middle Eastern Pizza/Pie You choose

Updated: Feb 4


Lachm Bi Ajeen

Meaning ‘bread with meat’

Going to Jerusalem on Saturday was one of my favourite family outings. It was a rare treat for us because it was such an epic journey by Israel standards; like an entire lifetime, like from one end of the known world to the other. Marco Polo, beware. I remember piling into Dad’s car -- the Susita Deluxe -- a bright-orange car made of fibre glass, our pride and joy (it was deluxe, right, maybe the regular version was made of tinfoil).

Mum would sit in the front with my baby brother on her lap (there were no seat belts in those days) my two sisters and I were in the back.

‘Can we go to the western wall first,’ I would wail, ‘I want to make a wish.’ (Other days I’d wish we could go to the wailing wall). My wish was always the same, for peace. Every time. It would be nice if I could pretend that marked me out as a unique soul, but everyone I knew wished for that rare commodity. What else was there to wish for, really?

I loved everything about Jerusalem, but my favourite part was the old city with its labyrinth of narrow, ancient cobblestoned ally ways; the food stalls that filled the air with tantalising smells which made my taste buds sing with delight and conjured up exotic visions from the Arabian Nights and exotic lands farther still.

One of the tastiest lunches I ever enjoyed there was the meat pie/pizza. There was nothing like it to be had where I lived. You could get a good shawarma, or a delicious falafel, but Lachm Bi Ajeen (bread with meat) could only be feasted on in the ancient byways of Jerusalem.

This flavoursome mixture of mince meat, spices and red tasty sauce which rested in its bed of soft dough, came straight out of the oven and into my mouth.

People, if you haven’t had this you are missing out. This dough is so good, I can’t tell you how chuffed I was when I managed to get it just right. I raced over to my mum with my masterwork straight out of the oven so she could taste it while it was still hot. Madam Von Uber Fussy-Pot gave the dough 10 out of 10. The filling was pronounced excellent, but she turned her nose up at the garnish, alas. ‘Lachm Bi Ajeen means bread with meat,’ she said. ‘It doesn’t mean bread, meat and garnish, why you mess with tradition…’


Note:

The dough recipe is by an Israeli chef called Ron Yohanan, which i translated. The filling recipe is mine.

Dough

Ingredients

500g plain flour

1 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 tablespoon vinegar

1 tablespoon dry yeast

3 tablespoons oil

1 & ¼ cups water

1 egg mixed with a teaspoon of water for egg wash


Filling Ingredients

500g mince meat

1 large onion, diced

1 large tomato, finely chopped

4 tablespoons oil

5 garlic cloves, crushed

1 tablespoon sweet paprika

1& ½ teaspoon all spice

1teaspoon mixed spice

1 teaspoon cinnamon sugar

2 tablespoons tomato paste

¼ - ½ cup hot water

½ bunch fresh continental parsley, finely chopped

Salt and pepper to taste


Garnish ingredients (optional)

Pine nuts

Finely chopped parsley

Zaatar

Tahini


Method

Electric mixer

In the bowl of an electric mixer add to the bowl: salt, then flour, the baking powder, yeast, sugar, then mix with a hook attachment on low for a minute. Increase the speed to medium-high add the vinegar then the water slowly when the dough almost starts to come together add the oil.

Knead for approximately 5 minutes or until you have a smooth elastic dough.

Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap and a large clean kitchen towel.Leave in a warm draft-free place for 45-55 minutes.

Method

By hand

In a large bowl, place the salt, then flour, the baking powder, yeast and sugar.Using a spoon, stir the dry ingredients to combine. Stir in water slowly, add the oil and continue to stir until the dough starts to come together. Transfer dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead until it is smooth and elastic: approximately 10 minutes (if dough is really sticky add a little extra flour).

Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap and a large clean kitchen towel.Leave in a warm draft-free place for 45-55 minutes.



Filling

Method

While the dough is rising, pre-heat the oven to 200C.

In a frying pan, over medium heat,fry onion until theyturn a dark golden colour, add meat and brown all over.

Add the garlic and mix for a minute, add spices and mix until absorbed by the meat.

Add chopped tomato and mix until it has shrunk a little.

Stirin tomato paste and add ¼-1/3 cup of water, you want the meat to be moist not soggy. It needs to have enough liquid, so when it goes into the oven the meat doesn’t come out dry. I use roughly a 1/3 cup of water.

Turn off the stove and stir in the continental parsley allow it to cool down.


Once the dough has risen you can divide and shape the dough into 10-12 small even size balls or into 5 even size balls large balls. I prefer to make 5 large balls.

Depending on how big your trays are you will need 2-3 baking trays lined with baking paper.

Place the balls on the tray lined with baking paper. Spread some oil on the tray so the baking paper sticks to the tray and doesn’t move around when you shape the dough.


Using your fingers start to push the dough from the centre out in a circular motion. (Please see video below) divide filling into even 10- 12 portions or 5 portions (depending on the size of pizzas) fill the centre with meat and with a basting brush, baste the edge of the pizza with egg wash.

Put in the oven and cook for 10-12 minutes.


Please note the dough recipe is from a chef by the name of

The filling recipe is mine.





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