Arayes are pita bread sandwiches stuffed with minced lamb meat, tomato, onion and different spices. Although it’s a popular market and restaurant food in the Levant region, Arayes are ideal choice for barbecue and cookouts. And also can be easily prepared in house. Baked, grilled or even toasted, it doesn’t matter as long as they are crispy outside and juicy inside. Arayes are preferably eaten fresh from the oven/grill with fresh yogurt and pickled green olives.
The word Arous (singular of Arayes) was commonly used in the region to refer to all kind of sandwiches, nowadays it precisely refers to this kind of sandwiches. Oddly enough, it means “bride”, I don’t know whats the history or the logic behind it. “Because it is as beautiful.” my brother tried to explain!
I’ve tried a few Arayes recipes before I’ve got the best one from our butcher (which I’m sharing of course). It suggests more tomato, more tomato juice and thick pita bread loaves.
- 500 grams minced lamb
- 500 grams tomatoes, finely chopped
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 1/3 cup parsley, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup olive oil, divided
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon red chili pepper
- 1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon allspice
- 1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses (optional)
- 7 to 8 thick loaves pita bread
Place meat, tomatoes (with their juice unless you use thin pita bread), onion, parsley, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, cinnamon, red pepper, pomegranate molasses, all spice, black pepper and salt into a medium bowl. Mix all ingredients very well.
Spread 2 to 3 tablespoon of the mixture into each pita loaf (right before baking to get crispy Arayes). Grease both sides of each loaf with about 1 to 2 tablespoon of olive oil. And then cut it into quarters.
Arrange Arayes in oven tray and bake them in a preheated oven on a low temperature (160c) until they become slightly brown or golden. Flip them to the other side for more crispness. Serve hot with fresh Greek yogurt and green olives.