Arayes

We all know there are smells and sounds that take us back to a certain place or time. The minute a particular song makes it through your shuffle lineup, you’re transported back to a place, a person, an event. It’s either a good memory, or one you want to pretend never happened [in which case you next that song like it’s nobody’s business]. Or you’re walking through the mall, or outside and all of a sudden you catch the scent of perfume, or cigarette smoke, or even home cooking and someone, something, some place pops right into your mind.

The same can be said for foods. Some foods make me nostalgic for my childhood, or a place that I visited. I used to spend my summers in Amman and, of course, I ate my heart out when I was there. Among the many foods I miss, I especially miss  Arayes عرايس which is basically finely ground meat inside of thin pita bread and either baked or grilled to perfection. I love it. And it’s really good with pomegranate molasses drizzled on top.

So whenever I eat them, I’m taken back to outdoor cafes with shisha and tea or nescafe in the city or overlooking the dead sea late at night with the full moon shining off of the water, or chowing down at home with a glass of yogurt drink. It’s a place and a time that I want to freeze and hold on to.

Arayes

Ingredients

  • 2-2.5 lbs Ground Beef
  • White Pita Bread
  • 4-5 medium Tomatoes
  • 2 large Onions
  • 4 Garlic Cloves
  • 1 teaspoon Black Pepper
  • 1 ¼ tablespoons Pomegranate Molasses
  • 1 teaspoon Seven Spice
  • 1 tablespoon Salt
  • ½ cup Olive Oil

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F
  2. Put all the vegetables and the meat in the food processor and process to a very fine consistency
  3. Add Pomegranate Molasses
  4. Add pepper, salt and seven spice and mix thoroughly
  5. Slit pita bread in half and spread the meat mixture in an even layer on one side of the bread
  6. Close the sandwich by pressing the top piece of bread down over the meat mixture
  7. Using a brush, generously brush both sides of the sandwiches with olive oil and place in a single layer on a baking tray
  8. Bake for 15-20 minutes
  9. Broil for 5 minutes until browned
  10. Serve warm with plain yogurt
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