middle eastern arayes (meat stuffed pitta sandwich)

 middle eastern arayes (meat stuffed pitta sandwich)

A cooked pitta bread sandwich popular around the Middle East, these arayes are very easy to make, stuffed with aromatic, spiced minced lamb or kid goat meat. I was recently lucky enough to work with the guys from Gourmet Goat, who gave me some minced kid goat to play with. Not only did I have a lot of fun experimenting . . . dear god, it was utterly delicious!

I served mine with some Turkish pickled chillies (you know the sort you get in a kebab shop), and some coriander chutney. Admittedly that isn’t traditional, but it’s what I had in the fridge and it worked really well. Hummus would be perfect too.

Serves 5-6
Skill level: Easy

500g minced lamb or kid goat
1 medium onion, very finely chopped
3 tsp Lebanese 7-spice mix (or 1.5 tsp ground cinnamon, 1 tsp ground allspice and half tsp ground black pepper)
half tsp salt
a small bunch of fresh parsley, finely chopped
10-12 baby plum tomatoes, finely chopped
cayenne pepper
sumac or fresh lemon juice
5-6 pitta breads
olive oil


  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas Mark 4. 
  2. Finely chop the onion and combine with minced lamb, together with the ground spices, salt and chopped parsley. Make sure the mix is well-combined.
  3. Cut each pitta, either in half or along the long side. Using a very sharp knife, carefully slice the bread part of the way through to “open” it up. This is easier if the pitta bread has been warmed in the oven first as it will puff up a little.
  4. Spread each piece of pitta with about 2 tablespoons of mixture. Sprinkle with a little cayenne pepper and sumac (or lemon juice) and top with a little chopped tomato. Fold back the top part of the pitta and lightly press down.
  5. Lightly brush both sides of the pitta bread with olive oil.
  6. Place the stuffed pitta (arayes) on a prepared baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes, before turning over and cooking for a further 10 to 15 minutes.
  7. I like to serve mine with pickled green chillies and olives, but some herbed plain yoghurt and a squeeze of lemon juice is pretty good too.

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