Lahm Bi’Ajin (Lamb Pies)

From Laura Di Lembo

2014 Mar/Apr

Adapted from a recipe in The Essential Mediterranean by Nancy Harmon Jenkins.

Toppings can vary from a thin paste to a chunky mass. Let’s go for texture and chunk as well as a Turkish twist that includes the sweet tartness of pomegranate molasses and sumac (available at specialty food stores and Middle Eastern groceries such as Basha International Foods).



  • 1 t. dried yeast
  • 3/4 c. lukewarm water
  • 1/2 t. granulated sugar
  • 1-1/2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 c. durum semolina
  • 1 t. sea salt
  • olive oil to coat ball of dough


Dissolve the yeast in the water with sugar, stirring to mix. After about 15 minutes, the mixture should be frothy. Add the yeast mixture to the flour mixture with salt in a large mixing bowl. Knead briefly until smooth, about 2 minutes (adding a bit of flour if the dough is sticky), until the dough pulls away from the side of your bowl and forms a cohesive ball. Oil the dough, put it in a clean bowl, then cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until doubled, about 2 hours.



  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 1 c. diced onion
  • 1 c. red pepper, diced
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 c. diced tomato
  • 1 lb. lean ground lamb
  • 2 t. ground sumac
  • 1 t. each ground cinnamon, allspice and cumin
  • 1/2 t. dried chile peppers
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 t. sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 T. pomegranate molasses
  • 1 c. finely chopped fresh mint or parsley
  • 1/2 c. pine nuts, lightly toasted


Fry the diced onion in oil over medium heat until golden, about 10 minutes. Add the red pepper and lemon zest and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring, until soft. Add the diced tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes, until softened. Add lamb, breaking it up with a wooden spoon, and cook until no pink remains in the meat. Add sumac, cinnamon, allspice, cumin, chile peppers, garlic, salt and pepper to taste and stir to combine. Cook for 1 minute, until fragrant. Do not let the spices burn. Add the lemon juice and pomegranate molasses. Let cook for 1 minute to thicken. Take the mixture off the heat and add the chopped mint or parsley. Mix in the pine nuts. Set mixture aside to cool. Taste for seasonings and adjust if needed. The mixture should be richly aromatic and flavourful.

Preheat the oven to 450°F. Punch down the risen dough and divide into 8 equal balls. Keep the unused balls covered while you roll out each ball into a thin, 7-inch round. Place the dough rounds on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Divide your topping into 8 portions and spread on each round of dough, getting the topping close to the edges. Bake pies at 450°F for 10 minutes until golden and crisp. Makes 8 pies.