Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Around the world - Stopover 27 - Armenia

After the conclusion of Vegan MoFo 2012, I boldly stated that my MoFo theme of around the world cooking was likely to continue on a weekly basis. Three of these themed posts were published in November, followed up with two posts in December and just a single one in January. The momentum for around the world posts may have waned a little but be assured they will still appear from time to time. Armenia has proved a little challenging to cross off my list as I cooked this meal almost three months ago and never got around to writing it up!

It didn't take long to decide what to cook for Armenia, when I saw mention of Armenian pizzas called Lahmajoon my mind was made up instantly. Lahmajoon are thin based pizzas traditionally topped with minced meat, vegetables, spices and herbs. The freshly baked pizzas are drizzled with lemon juice and folded around some raw vegetables. After looking up a few recipes, I preferred the sound of one on Taste of Beirut and adapted my version from there.

I've never been much of a TVP fan, I haven't used it much and can't recall a single recipe where it has made a really good impression on me. I decided to give it another chance as it seemed like the simplest substitute and it was also a good chance to clear out the pantry a little. After the dough was prepared and in the rising phase, the rehydrated TVP was processed with onion, green capsicum/bell pepper, garlic, parsley, chilli flakes, allspice, tomato paste, paprika, roasted red pepper strips and fresh parsley to make the topping for the lahmajoon.

The original recipe stated that it made 25 pizzas so I halved the quantities for the dough and rolled it out into 12. I rolled these out in batches fitting two pizzas to a large roasting tray lined with baking paper. They only took 8 minutes to cook and while a tray was in the oven I was busy preparing the next batch.

After sampling the first batch, the salt and spice flavours seemed lacking so I added additional sat and chilli to compensate. The rest of the lahmajoon were a lot tastier with these minor tweaks. The TVP did a decent job as a meat replacement on the topping yet it still hasn't won me over. Wrapping the lahmajoon around some fresh vegetables is how they are traditionally eaten, I enjoyed them this way although the man had ideas of his own. He preferred to tear off pieces of lahmajoon and dip them into hummus.

Lahmajoon (Adapted from Taste of Beirut)


1 ¼ teaspoons dry yeast
1 ½ teaspoons sugar
¾ cup lukewarm water
2 ¼ cups plain flour
½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ tablespoons olive oil (plus extra to coat the dough)

Place the yeast and 1/2 teaspoon sugar in a small bowl and cover with ¼ cup of lukewarm water. Stir well then set aside for 5-10 minutes until it becomes frothy.

Mix the flour, salt and remaining teaspoon of sugar together in a large bowl. Pour in the yeast mixture, ½ cup lukewarm water and olive oil. Mix until the ingredients come together then turn the dough out onto a clean bench and knead vigorously for 10 seconds. Place the dough into an oiled bowl, roll it around so it is coated evenly with oil then cover with a tea towel and allow the dough to rise for an hour or until it has doubled in size.

Filling & toppings

1 ½  TVP mince
1 ½ cups boiling water
1 small onion, roughly chopped
½ green capsicum/bell pepper, roughly chopped
¾ cup parsley, roughly chopped
1 ½ teaspoons chilli flakes
½ teaspoon allspice
3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1/3 cup tomato paste
40 grams marinated red capsicum strips
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
½ heaped teaspoon sea salt
Lemon wedges, for serving
Shredded lettuce, cucumber sticks, diced tomatoes, for topping

Place the TVP in a bowl, cover with boiling water and allow it to rest for 15 minutes until it has rehydrated. 

Transfer the TVP to a food processor bowl and add the onion, capsicum, parsley, chilli flakes, allspice, garlic, tomato paste, red capsicum strips, paprika, cayenne pepper (if using) and salt. Process until everything is finely chopped, stopping to scrape down the sides a couple of times if necessary.


Preheat oven to 200C.

Punch down the dough, divide it into 12 even pieces and roll each piece into a ball. Cover the dough balls with a damp tea towel to prevent them from drying out. Roll a piece of dough into a very thin pizza, then place it on an oven tray lined with baking paper. Spread a thin layer of the TVP mixture almost out to the edges using the back of a spoon. Roll out another lahmajoon if you have room on your tray. Bake in the oven for 8 minutes or until the edges are browned. Continue to roll out and top more lahmajoons whilst waiting for the batches to bake.

After removing from the oven, cool for a few seconds, scatter with shredded lettuce and cucumber sticks and drizzle with some lemon juice. Fold up and enjoy!


Did you know?

The total worldwide Armenia population is estimated to be 11 million although only 3 million Armenians actually live in Armenia! The remaining 8 million Armenians reside in other countries. Russia, the United States, France, Turkey and Lebanon have the highest populations of Armenians living outside Armenia.


  1. I'd never heard of Lahmajoon until now! I love the idea of folding it up with veggies inside AND dipping it into hummus!

    1. It was a new one for me too! I loved the different way of eating these pizzas.

  2. When the last two MoFo's have ended I've thought that I'd continue with my themes on occasion, but both times I've never returned to them. I don't know why exactly. I guess I just felt done with them. I'm happy to see the return of your around the world posts whenever they come!

    I enjoyed reading about lahmajoon. That one is new to me, but I have a soft spot for Armenia. For many years I lived in Glendale, California, the home to a big population of Armenians. In my neighborhood there were several Armenian grocery stores and restaurants.

    1. It's interesting to hear your thoughts about continuing MoFo themes and that you have contemplated it too. I do enjoy discovering new food from around the world which is why I'm keen to continue this theme, sometimes these posts can be more time consuming than standard posts so when I'm busier than usual I struggle to keep it up.

      It sounds like an exciting area that you used to live in!

  3. Those pizza things sound awesome! I love topped flat breads & the spice mixture sounds like a win.

    1. They weren't bad at all! I'm a sucker for all types of breads and anything with spices gets my vote too.

  4. I do like the around the world theme - I always think I know bits and pieces about other countries' food, then something like Armenia crops up and it's a whole new thing! Was the TVP dried? I've had some nice ready made frozen stuff, but the dried stuff never has much flavour. That lahmajoon does look really good - especially with extra chilli!

    1. One of the most fun parts about around the world for me is when I'm drawing a new country. When somewhere like Armenia comes out I realise that I have no idea about this cuisine and rush to do some research.

      It was the dried TVP I used. I haven't tried any of the frozen ones yet, perhaps I should before I totally write it off.

  5. I feel the same about top but there is not a lot to replace it without making up a batch of something. I would give it a try with lentils and walnuts because that is a good meaty combo

    1. Lentils and walnuts sounds like a good idea for a quick fix. I had also considered tempeh but wasn't confident enough to try it.

  6. Wow that's incredibly high stats for them living in other countries!
    Love the look of that pizza :-)

    1. It is a high statistic indeed. Glad you like the look of it!

  7. These sound really amazing, both wrapped around veggies or dipped in hummus!

    1. Or both for the ultimate eating experience ;)

  8. I've never heard of this dish, but the pizzas look great. I'm not a huge fan of TVP either but do find it substitutes well for mince meat in a way that many other things don't (not that I like many dishes that call for mince meat, but this would be an exception!).

    1. It seems that many people aren't particularly fond of TVP. I've always found the texture of the dried stuff to be a bit chalky, perhaps I should take Joey's suggestion on board and seek out a frozen product.