Arayes (Meat-Stuffed Pitas)

Cumin and coriander flavor the juicy ground beef filling in this home-cooked version of the Middle Eastern street food.

  • Serves


  • Cook

    45 minutes


By Sayat Ozyilmaz

Published on April 9, 2024

Ground beef combined with warm spices and earthy vegetables is the basis for this hearty Middle Eastern street food. Typically the mixture is stuffed into a pita and grilled whole to create a crispy exterior for a juicy, flavorful filling. Chef Sayat Ozyilmaz slathers his version with umami-rich spicy aioli before serving at his San Francisco restaurant Dalida

Ozyilmaz uses a vegetarian XO sauce in his aioli, but regular XO sauce—which contains dried seafood and cured ham—will work just as well. 


For the spicy aioli:

  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • 2 Tbsp. sambal oelek
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
  • 1 Tbsp. XO sauce

For the arayes:

  • ½ cup cilantro leaves and stems
  • ½ cup parsley leaves and stems
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 large green or red bell pepper, coarsely chopped
  • 1 medium yellow onion, coarsely chopped
  • 2 lb. ground beef, preferably 90% lean
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • ½ tsp. ground coriander seeds
  • 4 pitas, halved
  • Lemon wedges, for serving


Step 1

Make the spicy aioli: In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, sambal oelek, lime juice, and XO sauce. Set aside.

Step 2

Make the arayes: To a food processor, add the cilantro, parsley, garlic, bell pepper, and onion, and chop until fine. Transfer to a fine-mesh strainer set over a medium bowl and allow to drain for 15 minutes. 

Step 3

In a large bowl, stir together the beef, salt, cumin, and coriander. Add the chopped vegetables and knead with your hands until the ingredients are fully incorporated and the mixture is elastic.

Step 4

Using a small spoon, spread an even layer of the beef mixture inside each pita, dividing the filling equally among the eight pita halves (the beef layer should be visible from the cut side of the pita). 

Step 5

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 400°F. Meanwhile, preheat a large grill pan over medium heat. When the pan is hot, add the pitas and cook, flipping once, until deep brown, 2–3 minutes per side. Bake for 10 minutes, then flip and continue baking until the pitas are crispy and the filling is cooked through, 5 minutes more.

Step 6

Serve the arayes hot with the spicy aioli and lemon wedges. 

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