Reversing the usual way kebab meat is cooked and then served in or with bread, in this recipe for Griddled Pita Stuffed with Sumac-spiced Meat from Eleanor Ford’s The Nutmeg Trail, the meat is wedged into a pita before being cooked over a griddle. Hailing from the Middle East and Levant the dish is known as Arayes (Arabic for brides), in which the delicately spiced filling represents a bride enveloped in the arms of her groom, the bread.
Read our full review of The Nutmeg Trail by Eleanor Ford to find out more about the book. We were captivated by the history and stories of spices and how they travelled around the world.
Middle Eastern Griddled Pita Stuffed with Sumac-spiced Meat (Arayes)
A wonderful addition to the kebab culinary canon and a reversal of the usual order of things, as meat is wedged into pita bread before being griddled. In Arabic, arayes means ‘brides’ and here she is, the delicately spiced filling, enveloped in the arms of her groom, the bread. The marriage is undeniably burger-like but even quicker to prepare and with enticing sour and smoky notes from the sumac and paprika.
These kebabs work well made in advance and packed up to cook on a campfire, if you are that way inclined.
- 450 g 1lb beef or lamb mince
- 1 heaped tablespoon tomato paste
- concentrated purée
- 1 heaped tablespoon pine nuts, toasted
- 1 heaped teaspoon ground sumac
- 1 heaped teaspoon smoked paprika
- ¾ teaspoon ground allspice
- ¾ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 3 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
- 4 large pita breads
- Olive oil, for brushing
- Pomegranate molasses, to serve
Mix together the minced meat, tomato paste, pine nuts, spices, salt and parsley.
Cut the pita breads down one side and spread the filling in each in a thin and even layer. Brush the outsides with olive oil.
Heat a griddle pan to medium–high. Grill the pitas, pressing down with a spatula and flipping occasionally. A quarter turn in the pan will give you crisscross markings. They will probably take about 8–10 minutes in total, depending on your bread and how rare you like your meat. The pita should be well toasted and the meat cooked to a juicy pink or well done.
Serve drizzled with pomegranate molasses.
Crunchy salad with tomatoes, herbs and perhaps a tahini dressing. You can make one by mixing Greek-style (strained) yoghurt with a minced garlic clove, a few spoonfuls of tahini and seasoning with salt.
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Kavey Eats was provided with a review copy of The Nutmeg Trail by Eleanor Ford from publisher Murdoch Books. Photography by Ola O. Smit.