Meat Stuffed Pita Sandwich (Arayes)

Arayes is a classic Middle Eastern street food that you’ll find almost everywhere in the Eastern Mediterranean countries, from Lebanon, Jordan to Egypt. It consists of pita bread stuffed with minced meat, which is then grilled (or baked) to crispy perfection.

Let me introduce you to my recipe for crispy, delicious Arayes.

Arayes meat stuffed pita

Arayes Ingredients

Here’s a list of ingredients you need to make Arayes.

  • Pita bread: Pita pocket bread (Greek-style bread) yields the best result for Arayes. The meat will be stuffed into the pockets. Both sides will have just the right thickness to become crispy (not soggy) and also allow the meat to cook all the way though. The classic Lebanese flatbread is too thin for Arayes. It works too, but it will be much less crispy when compared to pita bread.
  • Ground meat: Ground beef or lamb are traditionally used. I recommend ground lamb. If using beef, don’t use lean beef (as it will be less juicy).
  • Onion: A regular yellow onion.
  • Parsley: A few sprigs of fresh parsley, preferably flat-leaf parsley (Italian parsley).
  • Tomato paste: Tomato paste enhances the taste of your meat mixture. You could also use pomegranate molasses for the meat filling instead (either works well).
  • Garlic: Fresh garlic cloves.
  • Seasonings: To season the meat mixture, we’ll need Baharat or Seven Spice (store-bought or homemade using my Baharat recipe), cumin powder, coriander powder, salt and pepper.
  • Olive oil: Olive oil to brush the pitas to maximize the crispiness.

Quantities can be found in the recipe card at the end of this recipe and can be adjusted according to the amount of servings you’d like to make.

How to Make Arayes (Step-by-Step)

Ready to get cooking? Let’s get started! You’ll find the detailed step-by-step instructions below. For a shorter version (to print out), simply scroll down to the recipe card.

Step 1: Prepare the vegetables

Let’s start by preparing our vegetables for the meat mixture. Peel a garlic clove, cut off the hard ends and crush using a mortar and pestle or finely chop using a knife. Peel the onion and finely dice. Chop off the long stems off the parsley and finely chop the leaves. For the meat mixture, it’s important that all vegetables are very finely diced. You can easily achieve this using a good chef’s knife, which is what I recommend. Alternatively, you can briefly pulse the vegetables in a food processor, but be careful not to overblend them. We’re aiming for a fine chop, not a puree. Add garlic, onion and parsley to a mixing bowl.

Step 2: Prepare meat stuffing

Add ground meat, tomato paste and seasonings to the mixing bowl: Seven Spice (Baharat), cumin powder, coriander powder, salt and pepper. Knead well with your hands to combine all ingredients thoroughly (you can wear gloves for kneading). Just be sure you use your hands to knead, not a spoon or so, as the meat, vegetables and seasonings have to be well mixed.

Step 3: Stuff the pitas

Cut open the pita bread pockets. Only cut the pockets about ¾ open to maintain the pockets. Don’t completely cut through.

Depending on the size of your pitas, add a few tablespoons of the meat mixture into each break pocket (about 2-3 tablespoons for small pitas as pictured). Spread the mixture evenly using a spoon or your hand, leaving approximately 1 cm (½ inch) of space at the sides.

Brush the stuffed bread with a thin layer of olive oil. This will make them even crispier when grilling them. Place on a plate until all the pitas are stuffed.

Step 4: Grill

Heat a grill pan over medium to high heat. Once heated, add the Arayes into the pan. Grill for 4-5 minutes. Flip around and grill for another 4-5 minutes (8-10 minutes in total). If using thin bread (e.g. Lebanese bread), it will only need about 2-3 minutes on each side, but the thicker Greek-style pita needs a little longer. Your Arayes are ready when the meat is fully cooked from the inside and the pita is crispy and slightly browned on the outside. Remove from the pan and serve warm (serving suggestions see below).

Arayes recipe

How to Serve

Arayes is a traditional Middle Eastern street food. It’s often served with a simple salad or sliced onions with parsley. It pairs well with plain yogurt, a Middle Eastern yogurt sauce or Tahina sauce (aka Falafel sauce). If you make this dish at home, you could serve french fries or pickles alongside.

Make Ahead & Storage

Arayes taste best when they are warm and crispy, right after grilling. It’s not a dish that you’d typically prepare ahead of time, although you could prepare the meat mixture in advance and leave it in the fridge (up to 1-2 days). Stuff the pitas and grill them in the pan right before serving.

Any Questions or Feedback?

If you liked this recipe, I’d appreciate it if you could leave a star rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ below. In case you’ve any questions or feedback, please leave me a comment (down the page). I’m happy to help you make delicious Middle Eastern food at home.

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Arayes meat stuffed pita

Arayes (Crispy Stuffed Pitas)

Kitty Ramasamy
Arayes is a classic Middle Eastern street food consisting of crispy grilled pita bread stuffed with ground meat. An easy, quick and family-friendly sandwich.
Rate this recipe
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Course Main Course, Side Dish, Mezze
Cuisine Middle Eastern, Lebanese, Egyptian
Servings 6 servings
Calories 439 kcal

Ingredients
 

  • 6 pita bread
  • 450 g (1 lb) ground lamb or beef
  • 1/2 onion medium, yellow
  • 3-4 sprigs flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 tsp Baharat Seven Spice, see notes
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • ½ tsp coriander
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil for brushing the pitas

Instructions
 

  • Prepare the vegetables: Crush a garlic clove, finely chop the onion and the parsley. Add to a mixing bowl.
  • Mix the ground meat, tomato paste and the spices (Baharat, cumin, coriander, salt and pepper) to the bowl with the chopped vegetables. Knead well with your hands to combine all the ingredients thoroughly (you can wear gloves).
  • Cut open the pita bread pockets.
  • Add 2-3 tablespoons of the meat mixture into each bread pocket. Spread it evenly. Keep around 1 cm (1/2 inch) at the sides.
  • Brush the stuffed bread with olive oil.
  • Heat a grill pan over medium to high heat. Once heated, add the arayes into the pan. Grill for 4-5 minutes each side.
  • Remove from the pan and serve warm.

Notes

  • Depending on how hungry you are (and any sides you’ll be making), serve 1 or 2 Arayes per person.
  • You’ll get the best results when using Greek-style pita bread, which is a bit thicker than traditional Lebanese flatbread. Pita bread will yield crispier Arayes and that’s what I recommend. If you use Lebanese flatbread though, be sure to add less stuffing and reduce the cooking time (need only 2-3 minutes on each side in the grill pan).
  • You can also grill arayes on an outdoor barbecue (charcoal or gas). It takes about the same time as in a grill pan. Baking in the oven is also possible (takes about 15-20 minutes in the preheated oven, on a higher rack). Brush with some olive oil when baking in the oven. Place the arayes on a rack (not on parchment paper) to maximize crispiness.

Nutrition

Calories: 439kcalCarbohydrates: 33gProtein: 18gFat: 25gSaturated Fat: 9gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 12gCholesterol: 55mgSodium: 561mgPotassium: 288mgFiber: 2gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 86IUVitamin C: 2mgCalcium: 69mgIron: 2mg

Nutrition information is only a rough estimate and may vary depending on factors such as the cooking method, exact weight, type, and brand of ingredients used.

Keyword Arayes, Hawawshi
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