The common spelling of this dish is lachmagine, but you may see it spelled lahm b’ajeen. Transliteration from Arabic is tricky business, so we won’t get all uppity about this. Lach- magine are sweet miniature minced meat pies that are popular in Israel, Syria, Lebanon, and Turkey. I always thought these mini pies were traditional fare, but the author of Aromas from Aleppo, the queen of Syrian cuisine Poopa Dweck (now there’s an exotic name!), says that mini pies are “an American thing.” ’Scuse me? Lachmagine American? Next thing, they’ll be telling us that shish kebab was invented in Hoboken. Anyway, she insists that in Syria these pies were originally the size of a wrap. But Anita makes minis, and so do I. I like using them as a starter or as a side, and they’re unbeatable party food. Traditional lachmagine calls for temerhindi, tamarind concentrate, so go stock up at your local souk. I’ll wait. Anita is too practical to mess with temerhindi. She makes a sweet paste of more readily available ingredients: prune butter and tomato paste. And you don’t have to make your own pie dough on a flat rock in your backyard. Anita says prepared pizza rounds are fine, and that’s good enough for me.
Prep Time : 10 min
Cook Time : 30 min
Ready Time : 40 min
2 medium onions
1⁄2 pound ground beef
1 cup prune butter
3⁄4 cup tomato paste
Juice of 1 lemon
3⁄4 teaspoon kosher salt
48 frozen 3-inch pizza rounds, not thawed
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray 4 baking sheets with cooking spray.
Finely grate the onions or puree them in a food processor. Combine the onions with the beef, prune butter, tomato paste, lemon juice, and salt in a large bowl. Mix until very well combined and completely smooth.
Place the pizza rounds on the prepared baking sheets and top each round with about 1 tablespoon of the meat sauce. With the back of a spoon, spread the sauce all the way to the edges.
Bake until the meat mixture is cooked through, about 30 minutes. Serve warm.
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