When I first started this blog I wanted to focus on dishes and ingredients from the East Med rather than specific countries because the countries in the region have so many dishes in common. Arayes is definitely one of those dishes that could be easily claimed by many countries as their own. Although often described as sandwiches I think they resemble burgers.
The filling is cooked in the pitta which results in a very succulent pattie – pitta retains moisture very well. The outside of the pitta is crisp, a great contrast. I made these when I came home from work on Friday as it’s the start of my weekend and I love protracting time spent making and eating dinner. It’s also great for food on the go. I used my own Baharat spice (cinnamon, peppercorns, nutmeg, cumin, gum mastic, chilli and cloves) which is essentially a spice mix used throughout the East Med, but the quantity and variety of ingredients vary from country to country and family to family. Recently I have seen a generic Baharat spice mix in many supermarkets.
(serves 6 as a snack)
400g of lamb mince
6 small round pittas
2 large tomatoes deseeded
1 tablespoon of tahini (combine 1 teaspoon of tahini paste, 2 teaspoons of boiling hot water, squeeze of lemon juice and a pinch of salt)
1 teaspoon of pomegranate molasses
Half a red onion grated
2 teaspoons of Baharat
2 tablespoon of chopped flat leaf parsley
1 tablespoon of olive oil
Salt to taste
2 heaped tablespoons of Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon of water
1 heaped teaspoon of sumac
Baharat (makes 6 teaspoons)
2 teaspoons of black peppercorns
1 teaspoon of cumin
1 cinnamon stick
½ teaspoon of cloves
¼ teaspoon of grated nutmeg
½ hot dried chilli flakes
½ teaspoon of salt
One droplet of gum mastic
- Preheat oven to 200◦C / 400F / Gas 6
- For the Baharat grind all the ingredients to a powder.
- To make the pitta filling grate the deseeded tomatoes and discard the skin. Place the lamb, grated onion, tomatoes, tahini, pomegranate molasses, parsley, salt and baharat in a bowl. Use your hands to combine all the ingredients together.
- Open the pittas and stuff with the filling. Brush each side of the pitta with olive oil. Place in the oven for 30 minutes. I used a pizza tray and turned the pittas half way through.
- For the dip combine the yogurt and water and place in a serving dish, sprinkle sumac on top.
- Cut the Arayes in half and serve hot.