Recipe courtesy of Gary Soultanian

Mama's Lahmajoon (Lagh-Ma-Jun)

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  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 1 hr 27 min
  • Prep: 25 min
  • Inactive: 2 min
  • Cook: 1 hr
  • Yield: 12 appetizer servings
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1 packet dry active yeast

1 cup warm water, 110 degrees F

2 1/2 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 cup vegetable oil

Meat Topping:

1 pound lean ground beef

3 tablespoons tomato paste

1 tablespoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika

1 tablespoon dried mint

1/2 teaspoon allspice

1 1/2 onions, chopped

2 cloves garlic, crushed and finely chopped

3 tablespoons finely chopped green bell pepper

1 teaspoon finely chopped jalapeno pepper

1/2 cup finely chopped fresh parsley

One 14-ounce can seedless chopped tomatoes, well drained and rinsed

Lemon wedges and plain yogurt, for garnish


  1. For the dough: Bloom the yeast in the warm water for 5 minutes until foam appears. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, then add the sugar and salt, mix with a spatula. Create a well in the center and pour in the oil and the bloomed yeast. Fold together all ingredients until combined.
  2. Rub hands with a little vegetable oil and knead the dough thoroughly for about 10 minutes the dough should be smooth and thick. Cover with plastic wrap and let the dough proof for 2 1/2 hours.
  3. Once risen, punch it down, divide the dough into 13 egg-sized balls, and roll each by hand. Roll each ball with a rolling pin into 7 or 8-inch diameter cakes, about 1/8 of an inch thick. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
  4. For the meat topping: combine meat, tomato paste, salt, garlic powder, black pepper, paprika, mint, and allspice in a bowl.
  5. In a food processor, pulse onion and fresh garlic until it has a thick-chunky texture, then add to meat mixture. Next add the bell pepper, jalapeno, and parsley to the food processor and pulse just until fine, then add to meat and onion mixture.
  6. Lastly, add the tomatoes to the food processor, puree, and then add to meat mixture. Mix well by hand or spatula. Let mixture marinate in the refrigerator, covered, for 2 hours.
  7. Spread a thin layer of the meat mixture, about 2 ounces, on to each cake and place on a lightly oiled sheet pan. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until meat is cooked through and edges of dough start to brown. To serve, stack the cakes on top of each other in a tower. Squeeze a bit of lemon juice on top, followed by a dollop of plain yogurt, roll up like a wrap and eat. Repeat with remaining cakes.

Cook’s Note

May individually layer each cake on waxed paper and seal in a plastic freezer bag for future use.