Classic Lebanese Cuisine: 170 Fresh and Healthy Mediterranean Favorites by Kamal Al-Faqih, includes recipes like Lentil Soup with Ruby Swiss Chard and Lemon (Adas bi Hamood); Lamb Kibbi Tray (Kibbi bi Saniyeh); Yogurt Cucumber Salad (Laban bi Khyar); and Lamb Turbans (Lahm bi Ajeen).
Lahm bi Ajeen (lah-him bee a-jeen)
About 2 dozen
Not only are these unique lamb turbans beautiful to look at, they are delicious too. A tasty combination of lamb, onions, tomato, and pomegranate with toasted pine nuts is wrapped up and baked to perfection in these stylish appetizers shaped like turbans.
Specialty ingredients: Dibs ruman (pomegranate molasses), can be found at specialty markets or online.
Special equipment: A 1-1/4-inch round cookie cutter, cheese grater, fine-mesh strainer.
Prepare ahead: The turbans can be refrigerated for several days or frozen for several weeks. Freeze uncovered on a plastic-lined baking sheet, then store in an airtight container. Reheat thawed turbans at 350 degrees F for 5 to 7 minutes.
For the Dough
For the Filling
(You can substitute ground beef or ground chicken for the lamb.)
In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast and sugar in the water. Mix well. Cover with a dish and set aside for several minutes to proof the yeast (until it foams). Meanwhile combine the flour and salt in a separate bowl. Pour all of the yeast mixture over the flour. Using one hand, quickly mix and knead the ingredients into a dough. Use both hands to shape the dough into a ball. (If the dough seems sticky, dip your hands in a bit of flour.)
On a lightly floured surface, roll the ball of dough out to 1/4 inch thickness. Gently hold the rolled-out dough by the edges and lift it about 2 inches off the counter (this will allow any contraction in the dough to occur before cutting).
Cut the dough into 1-1/4-inch rounds using a cookie cutter; make one cut directly next to the other to maximize the number of rounds. Dip the pastry rounds into the olive oil and place them side-by-side on a dinner plate. Cover them with plastic wrap and set the plate aside, allowing the pastry to rest for 1 hour. In the meantime, prepare the filling. Reserve the leftover olive oil.
Grate the onion using the large holes of a cheese grater. Place the grated onion in a fine-mesh strainer and, using the back of a spoon, press the onion against the mesh to remove as much of the liquid as possible. Combine the onions with the next 9 ingredients, all but the pine nuts. Mix well, cover; and refrigerate the filling until needed. Keep the fine-mesh strainer aside for later use.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spread the pine nuts over a foil-lined baking sheet and toast in the center of the oven, shaking the tray occasionally, for 5 to 7 minutes, or until they are golden. Cool the pine nuts before using.
After the dough has rested 1 hour; transfer the plate of rounds to your work area. Put the filling into the fine-mesh strainer. Place the strainer over the bowl used for the filling, allowing excess liquid to drain (you will later discard this liquid).
Line a baking sheet with foil and generously grease it with some of the reserved olive oil. Set this next to your work area. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
With a dessert plate on the counter in front of you, transfer 1 round of dough to the center of the plate. Use your fingers to flatten it into a round 3-1/2 inches in diameter; dipping your fingers in some of the olive oil as you open the round. Place 2 teaspoons of filling in the center of the dough. Use your fingers to lift one side of the dough over the filling, as you form a hood over half of the filling. Press the edges down on either side with your fingertip, securing the filling under the hood. Start from one side by lifting and wrapping the dough up, over and around the filling. Repeat this 3 more times. As you lift and wrap the dough around for the third time, make sure to tuck the final stretch of dough under the turban to prevent the dough from unraveling while it bakes.
The turban should look like a rosebud at this point. Transfer it to the greased tray. Repeat with the remaining rounds of dough, placing them 1 inch apart on the tray. Insert 3 pine nuts into the meat filling at the top of each turban.
Place the tray on the middle shelf of the oven and bake at 425 degrees F for 18 to 20 minutes, or until the pastry edges of the turbans are golden brown. Allow them to cool for several minutes before serving.
This page created March 2010
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