Back when I was in Italy in November, I took some photos for the home-delivery services of Snubar, a very good kosher catering business that offers Kosher Middle Eastern/Lebanese cuisine in Milan and the surrounding areas. One of Snubar’s specialties is arayes, a simple but ingenious Lebanese dish that is a major hit in Israeli restaurants.
What are arayes, you ask? Imagine a pita cut in half, stuffed with well-spiced minced meat, cooked on the grill: the crumb absorbs the juices of the meat, while the crust gets crunchy and a little charred. Isn’t your mouth watering already?
As this week we celebrated Yom Ha’azmaut, Israel’s independence day, I thought I’d dust off my favorite arayes recipe, which is found in the book “Shuk” by Einat Admony and Janna Gur, published by Artisan (the same publishing house that will soon publish my book on Italian Jewish cuisine!). If you are a fan of Ottolenghi and you like the multi-ethnic cuisine of Israel, you can’t miss this book. It contains not only many delicious recipes, but also a lot of useful tips for when, one day—hopefully—you’ll visit Israel. Einat’s passion for the markets (shuk, as the tile goes) of Israel really shines through every page!
Do yourself a favor and try making arayes, perhaps this coming weekend. You won’t regret it. If you have time, make your own pita too. It will be the best lunch or dinner ever!
- 450 g ground beef
- 150 g ground lamb
- 2 onions
- 50 g parsley
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 3 pitas (o 6 mini)
- 50 ml extra virgin olive oil
- In a large bowl, mix the ground meats with salt, pepper and cumin. Chop the onions and parsley in a food processor, then add them to the ground meat, mixing well.
- Cut each pita in half and fill the halves with the ground meat mixture, then press them well: you want the arayes to be well stuffed but not too thick, otherwise the meat will not cook thoroughly. Aim for 2.5 cm of thickness, not more.
- Brush a little oil on both sides of your arayes and heat the grill in the meantime. If you have a bbq like I do, use it without hesitation. If not, heat a normal grill pan and preheat the oven to 350° F.
- When the grill is hot, arrange the arayes on the grill and cook them until they are golden and a little scorched on the outside, about 2-3 minutes per side.
- At this point, if you have a bbq transfer the arayes to the less hot part of the bbq and let them cook for another 5 minutes. If you are cooking in your kitchen, transfer the arayes to the oven and let them cook for about 10 minutes, or until the meat looks done.