Crispy Pitas Filled with Lamb, Chicken, and Spices … AraYES

AraYES Lamb and Chicken with fresh herbs

If you are a fan of spicy lamb and crunchy toasted pita bread, you’ll love these Arayes. I often make these with whatever I have in the kitchen. If I’m lucky I have fresh herbs like mint, parsley, or cilantro to mix in. I’ve made them a few times this past year and each time they’re a little different. These arayes are a great way to introduce new spices like sumac and za’atar into your spice cabinet!

AraYES Lamb and Chicken with fresh herbs

I’ve been catching up on my reading lately, so I don’t have any eBook-inspired recipes right now. But I do have this spicy crispy lamb-filled pita recipe! Honestly, until recently I didn’t even know what Arayes were. We frequent a local restaurant called The Beirut that serves authentic Lebanese food. It’s so good that I know people who have left the Toledo area eat there every single time they visit. I used to get the same few meals every time I ate at The Beirut, but one day I asked about some other items on the menu and when I heard the waitress tell me about their crispy meat-filled pita’s, I had to try them, and I’m so glad I did! I think they call them araYES because YES, they are so good! Since then, the pandemic hit, and I found myself craving arayes so I concocted this recipe with some spices that I had in my kitchen from making lamb burgers, and added sumac to my arsenal. I’ve seen these made with lamb and/or beef, but I prefer a lighter mixture of lamb and chicken. It lightens them up a bit too!

The last time I made these Arayes, I cooked up half one night and froze the meat filling, and made another batch a week later. I think if you have time to let the meat mixture sit overnight the flavor will be even better!

Arayes

Crispy Pitas Filled with Ground Lamb, Chicken and Spice – Arayes

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These crispy lamby spicy pitas make a great weeknight or weekend meal! You can choose your favorite ground meat, but a combination of lamb and ground chicken is very tasty mixed with cinnamon, za'atar, and extra lemony sumac if you have it! Plus, using half ground chicken reduces the fat a bit. Serve these up alongside some hummus, Greek yogurt, and cucumbers and you have yourself a meal!
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Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Total Time 25 mins
Course Main Course, Side Dish, Snack
Cuisine Mediterranean
Servings 5
Calories 372 kcal

Equipment

  • Baking sheet(s)
  • Non-stick aluminum foil – optional, but works great!
  • Pastry brush
  • Knife
  • Tablespoon

Ingredients
  

For the Lamb Filling

  • ½ lb Ground lamb Or any ground meat
  • ½ lb Ground chicken Or turkey (If you really love lamb, just use all lamb!) *for a lower fat version, you could use all ground chicken, I have not tried it, but you may want to reduce the amount of spices.
  • ½ cup Onion Finely diced
  • ¼ cup Tomato Optional, finely diced, seeds removed
  • 1 Garlic clove Finely chopped
  • ¼ cup Chopped cilantro Optional, but very tasty! – or use parsley. You could also add 1/4 cup diced seeded tomato
  • ½ tsp Mint Or add a couple tbsp fresh chopped mint
  • 1 tbsp Sumac Optional – Sumac has a bright lemony flavor!
  • tbsp Za’atar Za'atar or garam masala would work fine. Use some to sprinkle over the top as delicious garnish! TIP: Taste your za'atar for salt and hot pepper/cayenne, if it's salty, don't add any salt to the recipe.
  • ts Cayenne pepper Optional, use more or less depending on what you like! If your za'atar is hot, you may not want to add any cayenne.
  • ts Salt *Taste your Za'atar, if it's not salty, add a little more salt
  • ¼ ts Pepper Optional
  • ½ ts Cinnamon I adore cinnamon in lamb so I use a heaping spoonful

To Prepare the Arayas

  • 4 Medium pita bread loaves
  • tbsp Olive oil

Garnish/Optional

  • 1 Lemon Cut in wedges
  • Greek Yogurt or Hummus Optional

Instructions
 

  • Combine all ingredients for filling until mixed well. It should not be too wet. If it seems wet, you could add 1/4 cup of plain bread crumbs to the mixture.
    Onions garlic cilantro mint zaatar tomato
  • Preheat oven or grill to 450°
  • Brush the tops and bottoms of the pita bread with olive oil. (If the pita is stiff microwave it for 5-10 seconds until it's pliable so that you can open it up.)
  • Cut the pitas in half, and then in thirds to make six triangles. If you have small pitas, you may only want four triangles.
    Pita triangles
  • Open each piece of pita and stuff with about a tablespoon of filling and spread it from edge to edge. For crispier pitas, use a thin layer. Press firmly to seal them closed.
    Stuff pitas with a thin layer of meat filling
  • Sprinkle a little za'atar over the top, or cayenne if you like.
    Arayes with Greek yogurt and hummus
  • Bake in a 450° oven until crispy on top, about 5-10 minutes. Flip and bake another 5-7 minutes or until crispy and the meat is cooked through. If you are cooking on a grill over direct heat, check them after five minutes per side, or more frequently.
    Grilled arayes
  • Serve with lemon, hummus or Greek yogurt.

Notes

If you are using thawed ground meat and it looks wet, place it in a colander for a few minutes to drain.
Sumac has a lemony taste and I like to add to that flavor by squeezing fresh lemon over the tops of the arayes when serving.
Some recipes call for filling the pita’s whole, then cutting into wedges before cooking. I find these are more crispy when I fill the triangles separately. 
Resist the urge to overfill these or they may get soggy.
Non-stick aluminum foil – optional, but works great with this recipe! It’s a little pricy but it’s an amazing product. I’ve seen these cooked directly on the grill, but I prefer a baking sheet.
These are great dipped in hummus, Greek yogurt, tzatziki, or baba ghanoush! If you really think about it, these are sort of like eating skinny, spicy lamb burgers!
If you haven’t made Arayes, give these a try, and don’t be afraid to adjust the seasonings to your taste preference. I like extra cayenne pepper!  If you enjoyed this recipe, please support my blog by rating the recipe. 

Nutrition

Calories: 372kcalCarbohydrates: 30gProtein: 20gFat: 19gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 72mgSodium: 355mgPotassium: 480mgFiber: 3gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 179IUVitamin C: 15mgCalcium: 82mgIron: 3mg
Keyword arayes, chicken, ground meat, lamb, lightened up, lower fat, mediterranean, spicy, sumac, zaatar
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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