Lahm bi’ajeen

Lahm bi’ajeen

Lamb-filled pastry rolls

The Complete Middle Eastern Cookbook
Alan Benson

These delicate pastries often appear on restaurant menus as ‘ladies fingers’. Sometimes they are called sambusik bi lahm, but any combination of lamb and pastry or dough is usually called lahm bi’ajeen or similar, literally meaning ‘meat with dough’.

As there is another recipe by this name in this chapter, I am depending on the translation to indicate the difference.


Quantity Ingredient
15 sheets fillo pastry
125-185g Samneh, melted


Quantity Ingredient
2 tablespoons Samneh
or 2 tablespoons ghee
80g pine nuts
500g finely minced lean lamb
1 large onion, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to season
3 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh mint, finely chopped


  1. To make the filling, heat the samneh or ghee in a frying pan and fry the pine nuts until golden. Remove to a plate with a slotted spoon.
  2. Add the lamb to the pan and stir over medium–high heat until the colour changes and the lamb is crumbly. Add the onion and gently fry until the onion is translucent.
  3. Reduce the heat, add the cinnamon and season with salt and pepper. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes, or until the juices evaporate, stirring occasionally. Stir in the parsley and mint, remove from the heat and leave covered until cool. Add the pine nuts.
  4. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 200°C.
  5. Take a sheet of fillo pastry and brush it lightly with melted samneh. Fold it in half, to give almost a square shape. Brush again with samneh and place about 2 tablespoons of filling towards the edge of the longer end of the pastry. Fold the pastry over the filling, fold in the sides to contain the filling, then roll up firmly so the finished pastry looks like a long cigar, about the thickness of a finger.
  6. Repeat with the remaining ingredients, keeping the finished pastries covered.
  7. Place the rolls on baking trays lightly greased with melted samneh. Brush the rolls lightly with more samneh.
  8. Using a sharp knife, make shallow slits across the top of each roll, about 8–10 cm apart, so that the rolls are evenly marked. This helps when cutting the finished rolls into finger lengths, as fillo pastry shatters easily when cooked.
  9. Bake the rolls for 12–15 minutes, or until golden brown.
  10. Cut into finger lengths and serve hot, piled on platters.


  • Smaller rolls can also be made. Shape using pastry strips 12 cm wide.
The Complete Middle Eastern Cookbook
Middle Eastern
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