Grilled Eggplant Syrian Pizza

Grilled Eggplant Syrian Pizza is tender slices of smoky, grilled eggplant topped with a beef paste seasoned with warm spices and herbs. Based on lahmacun, pronounced “lahma’joun”, derived from the Arabic lahma bi’ajeen, which translates as “dough with meat.” The thin, crispy flatbreads, topped with seasoned meat paste, are a popular street food in Turkey, the Middle East and North Africa; its cognomen is Syrian pizza, though depending on the geography, it is also called Turkish pizza, Lebanese pizza, you get the picture. Traditionally, the recipe uses ground lamb and a simple dough which is baked into flatbreads; Grilled Eggplant Syrian Pizza uses ground beef, as it is more accessible and popular to Western tastes, and grilled eggplant slices in place of the flatbread, in a nod to carbohydrate and gluten consciousness. We first encountered traditional lahmacun when we lived in Brooklyn Heights; lower Atlantic Avenue was one street away and filled with Arabic grocery stores, bakeries and restaurants, most of which sold lahmacun as take-away, much like slices of pizza. Grilled Eggplant Syrian Pizza is faithful to its roots while extending the culinary horizon of this dish; enjoy it with a side of Grilled Asparagus.

Grilled Eggplant Syrian Pizza

Total Time: 1 hour. Serves 4.

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  • 1 ½ lbs. ground Beef*, 85/15 blend recommended
  • 1/3 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 Tbs Lahmacun Seasoning*
  • 1 ½ tsp Crushed Red Pepper flakes
  • 1 Tb Aleppo Pepper flakes*
  • ½ tsp coarse Sea Salt
  • ½ Tb dried Thyme leaves
  • ½ Tb ground Fennel
  • ½ Tb Sweet Smoked Paprika
  • 1 ½ cups finely chopped Onion
  • 1 Tb minced Garlic
  • 6 oz Tomato Paste
  • 3 oz Water at room temperature
  • 1 medium Eggplant, approximately 1 lb.

Grilled Eggplant Syrian Pizza


  1. Pour the extra virgin olive oil into a wide, deep frying or fricassee pan over a medium-high heat, when the oil is hot, crumble the ground beef into the pan and cook the beef, uncovered, until browned.
  2. While the beef is browning, combine lahmacun seasoning, crushed red pepper flakes, Aleppo pepper flakes, sea salt, thyme leaves, ground fennel and smoked paprika in a bowl and set aside. Finely chop the onion, mince the garlic, combine in a second bowl and set aside.
  3. When the beef is browned, stir the combined seasonings into the beef, lower the heat to medium and cook uncovered for 1 minute to allow the seasonings to bloom.
  4. Add the onion and garlic to the pan, stir to mix with the seasoned beef, cover and cook over a medium heat until the onion has softened.
  5. Add the tomato paste and water to the pan, stir to mix and continue to cook, covered, for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  6. Remove the beef to a food processor or hand blender container and process into a thick paste, adding a bit of water as needed. Return the seasoned beef paste to the pan, cover and keep warm.
  7. Slice the eggplant into ½-inch thick rounds. Bring the grill to a high heat, lay the eggplant slices on the grill surface and grill for 2 to 3 minutes per side.  Remove the grilled eggplant slices to a platter.
  8. Transfer the seasoned beef paste to a bowl and serve with the platter of grilled eggplant slices and flat breads or pitas for those not watching their carbs and wanting a more traditional base. Make the Grilled Eggplant Syrian Pizza at the table by selecting a grilled eggplant slice and topping it with the seasoned beef paste.

Grilled Eggplant Syrian Pizza


  • Ground lamb is traditionally used in lahmacun; this recipe uses ground beef as it is more accessible and more popular to Western tastes.  Feel free to use ground lamb in place of the ground beef in this recipe.
  • Lahmacun Seasoning and Aleppo Pepper can be purchased at Middle Eastern grocery stores and online.

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