Calling this recipe a sausage roll feels a little like underselling it. The Arabic name for this dish is lahmbajine, a meat bread made in different guises everywhere all over Lebanon. I discovered this version in Saida. Down one of the city’s many narrow stone alleyways in the souk, a wonderful old man had a tiny bakery, only an oven in an arch really, where he displayed these moreish snacks on rustic wooden trays. I devoured several of them, piping hot from the oven. Heavy with tart sumac and with the crispest pastry, they had such an interesting flavour. I know I would be scolded for doing so, but I find using shop-bought, ready-rolled puff pastry gives the perfect texture.
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for brushing
1 onion, finely chopped
250g beef mince with 15–20 per cent fat
2 tablespoons sumac, plus a little extra for sprinkling
1 teaspoon allspice
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
320g pack ready-rolled puff pastry
Flour, for dusting
Heat the oil in a pan over a medium heat and add the onion and a good pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 6–8 minutes until golden. Tip into a mixing bowl and add the beef, 1 tablespoon of the sumac, the allspice and the cinnamon. Season with a little salt and mix well so that the spices are completely combined with the meat.
Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/gas mark 6. Lay the pastry on a clean, lightly floured work surface. Sprinkle the remaining sumac evenly over the pastry and gently press it in. This gives your rolls a lovely tart kick. Cut the pastry in half lengthways and then cut each long piece into four, to make eight rectangles.
Place a portion of the filling in a line, lengthways, down the centre of one of the rectangles of pastry. Roll up into a sausage roll and place, fold side down, on a baking sheet lined with oiled baking paper. Repeat with the rest. Brush the tops of each pastry with olive oil and then scatter a little salt and sumac over each one. Bake for 15–20 minutes until golden and risen. Remove from the oven and leave to cool for a few minutes before serving.
Recipe taken from Saffron in the Souks:
Vibrant recipes from the heart of Lebanon
(Kyle Books) by John Gregory-Smith