Arayes is a delicious Middle Eastern recipe that is enjoyed throughout the year, but especially during barbecue season. I always keep extra prepared and stocked in my freezer ready to be cooked for the kid’s school lunch boxes. These flavorful meat-filled pita bread pockets are a favourite among many, offering a satisfying and convenient meal option. Arayes can be served with yoghurt and a side of fattoush salad to create a complete and well-balanced Middle Eastern feast.
The filling is a flavourful combination of ground beef mixed with finely chopped red onion, parsley, red capsicum, lemon zest, mint leaves, and a blend of spices such as 7-spice, cinnamon, chilli flakes (optional), salt, and black pepper, the kafta mix comes together. The food processor is used to pulse and blend the ingredients until they are well combined, creating a fragrant and delicious filling.
To assemble the Arayes, the pita bread is cut into halves or quarters, depending on the size of the bread. The kafta mixture is then spread inside the pita pockets, filling them with aromatic and seasoned meat. The bread is brushed with olive oil, which adds a touch of richness and helps achieve a crispy texture.
Arayes can be cooked using two methods: grilling or baking. If grilling, the barbecue grill is heated, and the Arayes are grilled for about 3-4 minutes on each side until the meat is well cooked and the pita bread is nicely toasted. Alternatively, they can be baked in a preheated oven at 200 degrees Celsius for approximately 15 minutes, resulting in a slightly different texture but equally delicious outcome.
To complete the meal, Arayes are traditionally served with a side of Fattoush Salad, a refreshing and vibrant salad made with fresh vegetables, herbs, and crispy pita bread croutons, tossed in a tangy and herb-infused dressing.
Basic Ingredients for Beef Arayes
Ground Beef: Ground beef forms the main component of the filling for Arayes. It provides a rich and savoury flavour and adds protein to the dish.
Red Onion: Finely chopped red onion adds a subtle sweetness and depth of flavour to the filling. It also adds a touch of freshness.
Parsley: Fresh parsley adds a vibrant and herbaceous taste to the filling, enhancing the overall flavour profile of the dish.
Red Capsicum: The red capsicum, also known as red bell pepper, adds a mild sweetness and a pop of colour to the filling. It contributes to the overall texture and flavour of the Arayes.
Lemon Zest: Lemon zest adds a bright and citrusy flavour to the filling, complementing the other ingredients and adding a refreshing element.
Mint Leaves: Mint leaves provide a cool and refreshing taste to the filling, balancing the richness of the beef and adding a hint of herbal aroma.
7-Spice: The 7-spice blend typically includes a combination of warm and aromatic spices such as cinnamon, allspice, cloves, nutmeg, ginger, black pepper, and fenugreek. It adds depth and complexity to the filling, infusing it with a distinct Middle Eastern flavour.
Cinnamon: Cinnamon provides a warm and sweet flavour to the filling, enhancing the overall taste profile of the Arayes.
Chili Flakes (Optional): Chili flakes add a subtle heat and spiciness to the filling, but they can be omitted for a milder flavour if desired.
Salt and Black Pepper: These seasonings enhance the taste of the filling and help bring out the flavours of the other ingredients.
Pita Bread: Pita bread serves as the vessel for the filling, providing a soft and slightly chewy texture that complements the meat mixture. It also adds a pleasant toasty flavour when grilled or baked.
Olive Oil: Brushing the pita bread with olive oil adds richness and helps achieve a crispy texture during cooking.
- Ensure that the ground beef is well seasoned and mixed with the other ingredients for even distribution of flavours.
- Finely chop the red onion, parsley, red capsicum, and mint leaves to ensure they blend well in the filling.
- Use fresh lemon zest for the best citrusy flavour.
- Serve Arayes hot off the grill or fresh from the oven for the best taste and texture.
- Accompany Arayes with a side of yoghurt for a creamy and cooling element.
- Pair Arayes with a fresh Fattoush Salad to create a complete and balanced Middle Eastern meal.
- Leftover Arayes can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
- Reheat Arayes in an oven or toaster oven to help regain their crispiness.
- Note that Arayes are best enjoyed fresh, as the pita bread may lose.
Beef Arayes with Fattoush Salad
- 500 g ground beef
- 1 medium size red onion
- ½ bunch of parsley
- 1 red capsicum
- ½ tsp lemon zest
- Small handful of mint leaves
- 1 tsp 7-spice
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- ¼ tsp chilli flakes, optional
- 1 ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp black pepper
- 3 pita bread
- olive oil
- Kafta Mix: In a food processor, combine the ground beef, red onion, parsley, red capsicum, lemon zest, mint leaves, 7-spice, cinnamon, chilli flakes (if using), salt, and black pepper. Pulse the ingredients together until well combined, creating a flavorful and aromatic kafta mixture.
- Prepare the Pita Bread: Cut the pita bread into halves or quarters, depending on the size of the pita. Spread the kafta mixture onto each piece of pita, filling it with the delicious meat mixture. Brush the exposed side of the pita bread with olive oil, which will add a golden and crispy texture.
- Grilling Method: Preheat the barbecue grill. Place the prepared Arayes on the grill and cook for about 3-4 minutes on each side. Flip them carefully using a spatula or tongs until the meat is well cooked, and the pita bread is nicely toasted. The grilling process infuses the Arayes with smoky flavours, enhancing their taste.
- Baking Method: Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius. Arrange the filled Arayes on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Place them in the preheated oven and bake for approximately 15 minutes, or until the meat is fully cooked and the pita bread becomes crispy and slightly browned.
- Serve with Fattoush Salad: Once cooked, serve the Arayes with a side of Fattoush Salad, a refreshing salad made with fresh vegetables, herbs, and crispy pita bread croutons. The combination of Arayes and Fattoush Salad creates a well-rounded and delicious Middle Eastern meal.