I first heard of lachmagine, Syrian mini meat pizzas, quite a few years ago, but didn't make them often, because, quite frankly, meat is expensive round these parts. However, the few times I did make them, I really enjoyed them.
Of course, now we're gluten free in our household, so the standard recipe wouldn't work for us anyhow, so I decided to play around with it. And while deciding how to make it, I wanted to see if there was an extremely frugal way to make my lachmagine- maybe make it vegan? I use red lentils in many recipes as a substitute for meat, like in vegan bolognese or chili, so why not try lachmagine?
The results? Amazing!
For any Syrians reading this, I'm sure you'll think this is sacrilege- how can you make mini meat pizzas without the meat, but... these may not be authentic, but they're a very yummy meal and are very budget friendly as well.
The original recipe calls for tamarind, which is expensive. I used pureed dates and lemon juice instead of tamarind, and it works well that way, while saving money.
Of course, if you want to make this more authentic, feel free to use some ground beef (about half a pound or so) in place of the first two ingredients (just saute the ground beef first and then move on to step 2 of the recipe).
1 cup red lentils
1 1/2 cups water
3/4 cup tomato paste
1/4 cup date paste/pureed dates
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 small onion
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
Enough pizza dough or flatbread to make 9 mini pizzas- I find 1 recipe of my gluten free flat bread is perfect, or enough pizza dough (gluten free or not) to make a large pizza pie. Alternatively you can use 6-8 homemade or store bought pitas (gluten free or not).
1. Boil the lentils in the water until just starting to get soft, but not falling apart.
2. Strain the lentils, then add all the other ingredients.
3. Mix up your flat bread/pizza dough. Shape the dough into mini pizzas/pitas, roughly the diameter of an adult hand. I made about 9 from my flat bread recipe, but bigger or smaller it doesn't really make a difference.
4. If using a gluten free base, pop them into the oven for 10-15 minutes until it solidifies, then remove from the oven. If using gluten pizza dough, etc... or ready made pitas skip that step.
5. Spread the lentil mixture all over the pizzas/pitas/flat breads, covering the entire thing in a somewhat thick layer.
6. Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes, or until it seems "done".
7. Serve hot.
Ever heard of or eaten lachmagine? Does this look like a recipe you'd try? If you'd make it, would you make it with the beef or the lentils?
Have you ever used lentils to replace meat in recipes? What was your favorite recipe using lentils as a meat substitute?