Arayes is a barbecue dish in the Levant countries. Its basically pita bread stuffed with spiced meat. The spiced meat used in the stuffing is similar to that of Sfiha, but the sumac in this case is optional. Some people even stuff the arayes with Kofta, but I personally think it completely changes the flavor.
Ideally the Arayes are supposed to be grilled but it can also be made at home in the oven. You can even prepare it ahead of time and freeze it. When you are ready to use it, simply take it out of the freezer and straight into a medium heat oven. Then bake until the meat is cooked and the bread is golden.
Arayes is perfect for entertaining. You can make it using the whole loaf of pita bread or cut it into smaller sizes like I did.
You will need:
- Pita bread, 12 small pita bread *
- 1 tablespoon ground meat, beef or lamb, which ever you prefer
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 2 tomatoes, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon all spice
- salt and pepper
- 1 tablespoon sumac, optional
- Olive oil
* I quartered the pita bread to make it bite-size. You can also leave it whole if you choose.
Refer to the Sfiha recipe, for details about removing all the liquids from the tomatoes and onions. This is necessary or the bread will turn out soggy.
Once the tomatoes and onions are well strained. In a bowl add the ground meat, onions, tomatoes, tomato paste, all spice, salt, pepper, and sumac (if using).
Mix everything well together and set it aside. The filling is ready to be used.
Now take the pita bread and open it. Then oil the inside of the bread with olive oil.
Also oil the outside of the bread. Repeat the process with all the pita bread.
Then stuff each pita bread with about 1 tablespoon of the ground meat mixture.
Once you filled all the pita bread, you can choose to either use the barbecue or the oven.
In my case, I placed them all on a baking sheet and baked them on medium to high heat for 15 to 20 minutes. Until the meat is cooked through and the pita bread is golden.
While baking, turn them over twice. This will help the arayes brown equally on both sides .
Serve the Arayes hot or warm with any side salad. My choice this time was Tabbouleh.
Happy Baking, and as we say in Arabic “Sahha Wi Afia”