Sunday, March 18, 2012

Meat Stuffed Pita (Arayes Bel Lahem)

One of my fondest memories about food when I lived abroad was Arayes bel lahem (Middle Eastern Pita bread filled with a meat and vegetables stuffing). I remember that I didn’t have access to any Arabic store at the time and had all these cravings for this lovely dish which I grew up eating. Yet, this didn’t stop me, I baked my own pocket pita and recreated the dish with great results.

Now that I live in Jordan and I am so spoiled as I have access to the best pita bread from so many bakeries not to mention great produce (vegetables) which I can buy from the near buy produce shop on a daily basis, I can make this dish in a snap. To me it is the burger of the Middle East!! You can also buy it already made from so many restaurants but for some reason I love the homemade version as it is much less fatty, very fresh in addition to the fact that I really stuff the pita so you are enjoying a nice amount of beef and not only some beef and bread. Here is my recipe and I hope you enjoy it!!Happy Cooking!!!
Homemade Arayes Bel Lahem
Ingredients:

6 med size loaves of Pocket pita (select the thicker version that opens easily for stuffing in addition to the fact that it holds well and doesn’t dry out when in the oven)
Extra virgin olive oil to brush the bread
Filling:

½ Kilo of minced lamb and baby veal (I love mixing these up as I get great flavor and a reasonable amount of fat)
1 green bell pepper minced
1 med onion minced
1 large tomato seeded and minced
3 table spoons of extra virgin olive oil
1 table spoon mixed spices (If you don’t have that just use a sprinkle of black pepper, all spice a bit of cinnamon)
Salt
Direction:
Divide your pita into halves and open to stuff. Brush the inside with some oil. Set a side

In a large bowl mix all ingredients very well. Take some of the filling and start stuffing it in the bread (I do this generously)




Line your baking sheet with aluminum foil for easier cleaning. Arrange your sandwiches and brush the outside of the bread on both sides.
Heat the oven to 190-200 degrees and bake for about 20 minutes. You just check them so you don’t have them over cooked and too brown. They should become golden and the meat should be cooked all the way through. If you feel that they are too crispy, just cover them after getting them out of the oven with a piece of aluminum for few minutes and the steam should make them tender. I personally love the crispiness. Serve with yogurt and a bowl of salad.

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