Take a walk on virtually any street in Lebanese cities, you will run into a recurring theme, a ubiquitous “delicacy” store that is on almost every corner, but it’s not Starbucks! We’re talking here about Lebanese bakeries, aka “furen,” Arabic for “oven.” Such bakeries are flocked by Lebanese peeps mostly for a nice breakfast of flat bread pies, or mini “pizzas” baked with any of the following toppings: ground beef, Zaatar (thyme mix), Cheese, Labneh (dried yogurt), deli cold cuts or a creative mixture of such and other ingredients like olives, tomatoes, mint etc…
One traditional way of making such pies is to bake them on a “saaj,” a dome-shaped metal oven fired by wood or gas (see photo below). My late grandma in the village of Douma used to have one, and back in the day, every other weekend her neighbors would come over and they’d all bake bread for their families on the “saaj” along with delicious meat and zaatar pies, just like the aunties in the photo below. Good ole’ days.
The meat pie recipe we’re featuring here is the recipe that mom makes at home. Apparently it can be made differently but we LOVE this version! It’s the flat open one that you could also find in most Lebanese bakeries. It can be simply called Lebanese Meat Pie, or sometimes they use the Arabic name in various spellings like Lahmajun, Lahmajin, or if you have it at a Turkish place it’d be Lahmacun or Pide eventhough that may be slightly different.
Our meat pie recipe is easy to make especially if you use pre-made flat bread or thin-crust pizza dough to save you some time. So here we go:
- 1 lbs lean ground beef (no fat)
- 1 large red onion finely chopped
- 1 large ripe tomato, finely chopped
- ¾ cup of pine nuts
- 2-3 tablespoons of Pomegranate Molasses
- 1 teaspoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice (optional)
- ½ cup of finely chopped Parsley leaves
- 2 teaspoons of 7-spices
- 1-2 teaspoons of salt
- a dash of cayenne pepper (or to taste)
- 6 cups of multipurpose flour
- ½ teaspoon of yeast melted
- 2 and ¼th cups of warm water
- 1 and ¼th teaspoon of salt
- To save time, you could substitute with fresh thin-crust pizza dough. But if you’re more adventurous, here’s how to make this simple dough from scratch.
- Melt the yeast in ½ cup of warm water along with a tiny bit of sugar (1/8th of a teaspoon)
- Add all dough ingredients to your food processor, and let it knead for a few minutes until you get a dough. Alternatively you could also knead by hand by mixing all ingredients in a bowl.
- Let the dough rest for 20 minutes as you now prepare the meat fillings.
- Preheat oven to 500-520 degrees F
- Once dough is ready, make it into rounds of 8 inches in diameter and ⅓ inch thick
- Place dough on baking tray that has had some flour sprinkled on
- Spread 3-4 tablespoons of meat topping evenly on every dough
- Bake for about 10 minutes or until dough turns a bit golden. You could also end it with a 2-minute broil on High.