When you decide to go vegan you know there are certain dishes and certain foods you just need to write off and/or forget about. If your convictions are strong enough it's not a big sacrifice, not something to be lamented; rather it is something you embrace.
There are a few Middle Eastern dishes I grew up with that were staples in our house. One of them was Lahmajun; an Armenian/Turkish pizza of sorts. Traditionally made with ground lamb or beef and served with lemon wedges, it is something that we not only ate often, but something I really enjoyed. My Mom used to buy them frozen at the Middle Eastern grocer, and we would often have them for dinner. Sometimes we would even just pull them out of the freezer, heat them in a pan and eat them as a snack.
I had not really thought much about Lahmajun until I recently saw a picture of it online. The memories literally came flooding back. Not just the dinners and snacks at home but also thoughts of big family gatherings with stacks of Lahmajun being served along with lots of other Middle Eastern goodness. It got me not only thinking not just about how much I enjoyed it but about how certain foods, smells and tastes can literally transport you back to another time or place.
I started to research traditional recipes and figured I would give a vegan version a go. I would not only call this a success but I would call it a success of supernova proportions! The flavors were exactly right, and the texture like I remember it; I was literally taken back to my childhood and the many, many times I enjoyed this dish.
If you have not had Lahmajun before you should give it a try. If you have had it, and like me thought it was something you would not experience again, give this a whirl; if the Lahmujan you ate was anything like what I did, this will not disappoint!
For the dough:
5 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups non-dairy milk (I used So Delicious Unsweetened Coconut Milk Beverage)
3 tsp salt
1 tsp organic unbleached sugar
2 tsp active dry yeast
1/4 cup vegetable oil
Cooking oil spray
For the topping:
1 lb frozen soy crumbles, thawed (I used Boca)
1 red pepper, seeded, veined and cut into chunks
1/2 green pepper, seeded, veined and cut into chunks
1/2 medium onion, peeled and cut into chunks
2 tomatoes, cut into chunks
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 handful parsley (about a cup)
1 1/2 tsp cumin
2 tsp paprika
1/4 cup olive oil
To make the dough:
Put all ingredients into a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment. Turn on low and allow to run for five or six minutes until all ingredients form a loose ball. The dough may be a bit crumbly, that is OK. Remove from the stand mixer, form into a ball, place into a bowl spray lightly with cooking oil spray and cover with plastic wrap. Allow it to sit for two hours.
To make the filling:
While the dough is resting, place the peppers, onions, tomatoes, onion, tomato paste, parsley, cumin, olive oil and paprika into a food processor. Pulse to combine into a paste. Place in a bowl. Put the thawed soy crumbles into the emptied food processor bowl. Pulse until finely crumbled. Add to the bowl with the vegetable paste ad using your hands combine until well incorporated.
When the dough is finished resting preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place a pizza stone or baking sheet dusted with corn meal in the oven Break off a piece ad roll into a ball. Flatten into a circle on a floured surface and roll into a very thin circle. The dough should be cracker thin- no more than a quarter inch thick. You can make them as large or small as you want in circumference; I made mine about the size of a personal pan pizza.
Place enough filling on top of the disc to create a thin layer on top. Place on the pizza stone and cook until crispy, about 7 minutes.
Squeeze fresh lemon juice on warm Lahmajun before eating.