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Emirati Spicy Minced Meat Sandwich - Arayes

What's The Big Idea?

Arayes (I must be honest, I don't know whether that is the singular or the plural - if you only have one, is it Aray, Araye or Arayes?) is a great snack or breakfast dish from the United Arab Emirates and the surrounding region. Describing it as a sandwich isn't exactly right either - it's kind of more like a Mexican Quesadilla, but with a spicy meat filling instead of cheese. So, I'm not sure about the Arabic name, and even less sure what to call them in English, but give them a go - they're really tasty!

I'm sure you can vary the filling to your own taste, and try all sorts of different fillings - feel free to experiment. Just don't try a filling with too much moisture in it, or the Arayes end up a bit soggy.

Serve with a green salad and chutneys and relishes of your choice.

Shopping List

Here's the list of what you need:

  • 12 fresh pita bread ***
  • 500g minced (ground) lamb
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2-3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley *
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • ½ tablespoon ground cinnamon **
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground allspice
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 3-4 tablespoons corn oil
* I personally prefer to use a mix of parsley, coriander (cilantro) and fresh mint
** Personally, I prefer to reduce the amount of cinnamon and increase the cumin, but that's just my preference
*** Other flat breads will do - ideally you want something that is about 6 inches (15cm) in diameter, and can be sliced through the middle to create two thin slices

What To Do

  • Slice the pita breads in half to form thin slices - this will be easier with really fresh breads
  • Place all of the remaining ingredients except for the oil in a food processor and mix until smooth
  • Take a tablespoon of this mixture mixture and spread it thinly on one side of a pita half. You may need more than a tablespoon depending on the size of the breads, but it is important to spread it thinly - if it's too thick you will either end up with raw filling or burnt bread!
  • Place the other half of the pita on top and press it down firmly so that it sticks together. Set aside
  • Repeat with the remaining mixture and pita breads
  • The arayes can be fried, grilled or barbecued. Whichever option you choose, it is important to cook them on a low heat, otherwise the bread will burn before the filling is cooked
  • Brush the arayes with the oil and cook using your chosen method. Once one side is golden brown, flip it over and cook the other side
  • Keep warm until all the arayes are cooked. Serve warm

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