Learn how to make the best Beef Arayes recipe.
Arayes are stuffed sandwiches enjoyed throughout the Arab world in countries like Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Israel.
Our traditional Middle Eastern Arayes recipe takes under 30 minutes to cook from scratch. It’s one of our favouritequick and easy beef dishes to cook for lunch or dinner for a crowd. Simply enjoyed on on their own, they make for a delicious finger food snack perfect for parties.
Our healthy spiced beef arayes recipe features flavourful ingredients like olive oil, garlic, onions, caraway, cumin, cinnamon, cilantro, tahini and lemon.
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What are Arayes?
A word literally meaning bride in Arabic, Arayes are spiced kofta mincemeat-filled oven-baked flatbread sandwiches.
The stuffed pita are typically cut in quarters and then filled with minced lamb, beef or chicken before coated in olive oil and baked, pan-fried, or grilled until golden brown and crispy.
The popular Middle Eastern street food can be served as a snack or a main course, preferably with tahini and fresh lemon on the side.
Travel to the Middle East by Cooking Beef Arayes at Home
I love traveling to the Middle East and North Africa.
As a professional food and travel journalist, I’ve had the opportunity to enjoy amazing meals in the Middle East, from authentic markets to award winning restaurants.
For over ten years, I’ve been on the hunt for the best Beef Arayes via adventures that had me zig-zagging through Morocco, Turkey, Egypt, Jordan, Israel and Dubai. You guessed it! Some of my fondest food memories while traveling in the Middle East include fragrant feasts featuring grilled pita-stuffed with spiced kofta minced meat.
I ate Arayes at a traditional Moroccan riad, on food tours of Istanbul and Bodrum, accompanied by Egyptian tea on a Nile Cruise and in bustling market in Cairo, late night snack in Amman, al fresco market lunch in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem and accompanied by fresh salads and soup at a massive Middle Eastern barbecue in the middle of the Dubai desert while belly dancers twirled under the night sky.
Where To Eat Authentic Lebanese Arayes
Haven’t traveled to the Middle East before? It may be helpful to first sample Arayes at a local Lebanese restaurant to better understand how the dish is served. You’ll get an idea for the desired spice level, prefered minced meat (lamb and beef are the most popular), and ideal garnishes.
My Family Loves Minced Meat Stuffed Pita Sandwiches
When my family moved to Oakville the first restaurant we visited was a local Egyptian and Lebanese restaurant called Agabi. Ranked as one of the best restaurants in Oakville, Agabi, became our family’s go-to Middle Eastern take out joint.
After falling in love with Middle Eastern food at home, we enjoyed vacations to the region, feasting on endless bowls of hummus, falafel and spiced minced beef Arayes.
My family enjoys preparing this easy Arayes recipe at the cottage in Muskoka during the summer on the barbecue. If you have company coming over for a feast the petite kofta stuffed pita sandwiches make for a tasty pre-dinner snack.
Arayes Recipe Health Benefits
Our homemade Arayes recipe is packed full of healthy ingredients!
It is only recently that scientists have begun to identify the components responsible for garlic’s myriad health benefits. Rich in phytochemicals and potassium, garlic helps boost your immune system, fight cancer and protect your heart.
Onions are a humble vegetable packed with vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. Regular consumption of onions can help boost digestive health and reduce the risk of developing heart disease.
Olive Oil is ranked as one of the healthiest fats and is a staple in the Mediterranean diet. It contains vitamins E and K and plenty of beneficial fatty acids and antioxidants.
Rich in a group of phytochemicals called carotenoids, tomatoes may help reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke, and provide protection against cancer. Tomatoes are also a good source of immune-boosting vitamin C.
A rich source of phytochemicals and vitamin C, lemons help boost your immune system and neutralize free radicals that cause disease and skin aging. Lemons also protect against heart disease and help improve blood flow to the brain.
A rich source of blood-building iron, cumin may also help balance your blood sugar levels and reduce bad cholesterol. It is also traditionally used as a digestive aid.
Rich in energy-boosting manganese, cinnamon is also antibacterial and may protect your brain against Alzheimer’s disease.
A good source of bone-strengthening vitamin K, cilantro is also rich in antioxidants that help protect the eyes from damage by free radicals.
A useful source of copper, calcium, manganese, and phosphorus, sesame seeds help support circulatory, digestive and skeletal health.
Beef is a great source of protein and minerals like iron as well as an excellent source of the amino acid L-carnitine. Beef also features antioxidant glutathione known for its anti-aging benefits.
Whole wheat flour is rich in vitamins B-1, B-3, and B-5, along with riboflavin and folate. It also has more iron, calcium, protein, and other nutrients than white flour.
Arayes Recipe Cooking Tips
If it’s your first time cooking Arayes at home be sure to review our detailed step-by-step recipe below. Here are some helpful tips and tricks to get you started:
- We suggest purchasing lean ground beef for this recipe to avoid having too much fat seeping through the pita as it bakes in the oven.
- If you don’t like beef, you can substitute for ground chicken or lamb.
- You can prepare the minced meat filling a day in advance by letting it marinate overnight in the fridge. This saves significant time on the day of a dinner party as you only have to stuff the pita, grill and quickly bake them before serving.
- If you want to elevate the dish feel free to add a pinch of saffron or pine nuts to the minced meat.
- Beef Arayes is traditionally served with fresh flatbread like pita. We like to use smaller and thicker store bought pita but you can also use the larger thiner variety. If you love baking why not make your own sourdough pita?
- We like to drizzle Arayes before serving with tahini or Lebanese garlic toum.
What To Serve with Lebanese Meat-Stuffed Pita
We love to make this easy Middle Eastern kofta stuffed pita sandwich during large family gatherings. We serve them on a large platter or pass them around as a pre-dinner appetizer. Kids love them as it’s fun to eat with your hands!
If you’re hosting a large Middle Eastern-theme dinner party buffet serve Beef Arayes alongside Mahalabia, Moghrabieh, Zeytoon Parvardeh, Mutabbal, Romaine Salad With Tahini Caesar Dressing, Vegetarian Middle Eastern Spiced Pea Fritters, Chicken Shawarma, Palestinian Chicken Musakhan, Sweet Lebanese Sesame Tahini Rolls, Mihlama Kuymak, Za’atar Butter Bean Dip, Beef Kafta Afghan Kebab, Lebanese Kibbeh Fried Beef Croquette, Vegetarian Lebanese Eggplant Fatteh, Shish Barak and Adas Bil Hamod.
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Arayes Recipe Storage
If you have leftover Arayes you can store them in the fridge in an airtight container for 2-3 days.
We love doubling our recipe so we can store the leftover spiced minced meat mixture in the freezer and save time on cooking in the kitchen. We suggest storing leftovers in Pyrex freezer safe containers that have a snug lid.
Take the frozen beef mixture out of the freezer the night before you are hoping to serve Arayes. The day of your dinner you simply need to slather the mixture between fresh pita, bake and feast with glee!
How To Make Middle Eastern Beef Arayes Recipe
Beef Arayes Lebanese Meat-Stuffed Pita
- Spatula or Wooden Spoon
- French knife
- Serrated knife
- cheese grater
- measuring spoons
- measuring cups
- 4 tbsp Olive oil
- 2 Onions chopped
- Salt & Black Pepper
- 6 Garlic cloves minced
- 1 1/2 tsp Caraway seeds crushed
- 1 1/2 tsp Cumin seeds crushed
- 1 tsp Ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp Chile flakes
- 2 tsp Tomato paste
- 2 Plum tomatoes grated, skins discarded
- 350 g Minced beef
- 1 1/4 cups Cilantro
- 4 Pita
- 3 tsp Butter
- 1 Lemon cut into wedges
- 2 tbsp Tahini
- Put 2 tbsp of oil into a large skillet and place over medium heat. Add onions and 1/2 tsp salt and cook for 7-8 minutes, stirring often until golden brown.
- Add the garlic, spices and tomato paste and cook for an additional minute. Stir in the plum tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes, until they've completely broken down and the mixture has thickened. Remove from heat and let cool.
- Transfer the mix to a a medium bowl along with minced beef, cilantro, 1 tsp salt and black pepper to taste. Mix well and set aside.
- Preheat oven to 400 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Using a serrated knife, cut the pitas in half and fill each pocket with about 1/4 cup of the meat mixture, flattening it out so it fills the pita evenly.
- Put 1 1/2 tsp butter and 1 tbsp oil in a large skillet and place over medium high heat or a grill. Add two of the sandwiches and cook for 3 minutes, flipping after a minute, until both sides have browned.
- Transfer to prepared baking sheet. Continue process with remaining sandwiches.
- Once they are all pan-fried, transfer the baking sheet to the oven and bake for 7 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool for 5 minutes.
- Serve warm with lemon wedges and tahini sauce.
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