Arayes is a Middle Eastern appetizer! Pita bread stuffed with seasoned ground lamb meat, baked and then grilled for extra crispy texture. Ready within 30 minutes. Juicy and tender meat covered with crispy, flavorful pita bread. It is on every Middle Eastern restaurant menu, and its great party food. You can make my homemade pita bread on the stovetop and use it in making this recipe. Don’t forget to watch the video below to learn how to make this delight.
What is Arayes?
In Egypt, it is known as Hawawshi; and in Lebanon it is known as Arayes, and it’s more like burgers but are flat and have so much flavor. An appetizer that’s quick to prepare, classic, popular, and economical.
You can use homemade or store-bought pita bread in this recipe, but thick pita bread makes better tasting Arayes because it absorbs the flavors coming from the meat and olive oil without getting soggy.
I thought it’s a good idea to share this recipe after sharing my Beef Burger Pizza Recipe to give my audience more ground meat quick recipes. But as I have mentioned before, the flavor of the stuffed meat in Arayes is more delicious than a burger. You don’t need toppings or sauce with Arayes, but if you must, then you should pair it with Hummus!
To make a great tasting Arayes use ground meat with a high amount of fat. The fat brings out more flavor and keeps the meat tender.
Finely chop the onion – the juices from the onion spreads in the stuffing, adding moisture to the meat and it cooks quickly, leaving a hint of sweetness.
Warm earthy spices – Not many spices are used, but the combination of spices chosen for this recipe work great with lamb meat. Do not make the mistake of adding more spices; the amount used gives a balanced flavor.
Tomato – remove the seeds to reduce the acidity but adding it tenderize the meat, hence I promised you a juicy and tender stuffing in this Arayes recipe.
Ingredients to make Arayes
Ground lamb meat. (you can use beef or a combination of both).
Cumin, paprika, black pepper, salt, coriander powder, cumin powder.
How to make Arayes
There are five simple steps to make Arayes! It’s almost unbelievable how such a simple recipe can easily win everyone’s heart.
- Preheat the oven.
- Mix all ingredients except pita bread.
- Stuff the pita bread. Cut the pita bread in half and stuff each pocket or open the pita bread and spread the stuffing on one side and then place the plain side of the bread over it.
- Bake for 30 minutes.
- Grill for few seconds for extra crunch.
That’s it! This amazing appetizer is ready to be served in a few minutes.
Tips and FAQ for the best Arayes
What meat to use?
You can use lamb; it cooks faster than beef, but you can still use beef or mix half beef with half lamb. Make sure that the meat has a good amount of fat.
Can I grill the Arayes and skip the oven?
If you are using thin pita bread, then it might burn because the meat needs time to cook, and to be on the safe side, it’s best to bake the Arayes in the oven and then grill it.
Can I place the stuffed pita bread on a baking sheet and cover it with aluminum foil?
No, doing so will make the juices from the stuffing come out and dry, besides the nightmare of washing the baking sheet. Wrapping each pita bread in aluminum foil helps in capturing the moisture within the pita bread and prevents it from burning while the meat slowly cooks.
Shall I use thin or thick pita bread?
You can use both, but I prefer to use thick pita bread. It’s the pita bread made mostly in Egypt, and I have the recipe on my blog too.
What to serve with Arayes?
How to store Arayes?
When the Arayes are cool, place them in an airtight container and refrigerate for two days.
FOR THE FILLING
- 500 gm ground lamb meat
- ½ teaspoon paprika powder
- ½ teaspoon coriander powder
- ½ teaspoon black pepper powder
- ½ teaspoon cumin powder
- ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
- Salt to taste. For this recipe I have used ½ teaspoon
- 1 medium onion finely chopped
- 1 medium tomato chopped. Seeds removed
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 4 small pita bread around 5 to 6 inch or 2 large pita bread.
TO BRUSH THE BREAD
- Olive oil
- Preheat the oven to 200C/392F.
- In a bowl, add all the filling ingredients. Mix well and keep aside.
- You have to options here, either cut the pita bread in half and fill the pockets with the stuffing previously prepared, or open the pita bread and spread the filling evenly on one side and then cover with the other half of pita bread.
- Cut large enough aluminum foil to cover all sides of the pita bread.
- Sprinkle olive oil on the aluminum foil place the stuffed pita bread on the aluminum foil.
- Sprinkle olive oil over the pita bread and close the aluminum foil from all sides.
- Place the sealed pita bread in the middle shelf of the oven and bake for 30 minutes.
- Remove the pita bread from the oven and the aluminum foil. Place the pita bread on a hot grill and grill it until a little crispy and have grill marks.
- Cut the pita bread in triangles before serving.
- Serve with plain yogurt, salad, or Hummus.
- It is essential to preheat the oven. Turn on the oven and use it after 15 to 20 minutes.
- You can place the sealed pita bread on the oven shelf or on a baking sheet if you are concerned about the juices coming out of the aluminum.
- If you don’t have a grill, then place the Arayes after baking it in the oven on a hot pan and cook until a little crispy from both sides.
- To heat the Arayes, place them in the oven or heat them on the stovetop in a pan.
- Heating the Arayes in the microwave is possible, but the Arayes will not come out crunchy.
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