Middle Eastern Spiced Beef Pitta Pockets with Yoghurt Dip

Arayes are popular Middle-Eastern meat-filled pittas and it’s easy to see why they are so loved – they are simple, quick and super delicious. The pittas are stuffed with subtly spiced meat and onions and then fried or baked until nice and crispy. If you want to spice things up, add a pinch of chilli flakes to the meat filling.

Found in this book

Ainsley's Mediterranean Cookbook


Place the mince in a large mixing bowl and add the onion, garlic, tomato, molasses, allspice, parsley and salt and pepper. Mix well with your hands to combine all the ingredients.

Cut the breads in half and open out to form pockets. Fill each pocket with 1–2 heaped tablespoons of meat filling, using the back of a spoon to spread out the filling. Brush both sides of each filled pitta with olive oil.

Heat a frying pan over a medium heat. Cook the filled pittas in batches for 3–4 minutes on each side until golden brown and the filling is cooked through.

Alternatively, preheat the oven to 190°C/170°C fan/gas 5. Place the filled pittas on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes, turning them halfway through baking.

To make the yoghurt dip, mix the yoghurt with the tahini in a small mixing bowl, add a squeeze of lemon juice and stir in the parsley. Season to taste.

Serve the arayes hot, with the tahini yoghurt for spooning over and with a selection of pickles, olives and fresh dates on the side.



  • For the Spiced Beef Pitta Pockets
  • 250g minced beef or lamb
  • 1 onion, grated
  • 2 garlic cloves, grated
  • 1 tomato, de-seeded and chopped
  • 1 tbsp pomegranate molasses
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • 2 tbsp roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • a good pinch of sea salt
  • a pinch of black pepper
  • 4 pitta breads or flatbreads
  • 2 tbsp olive oil, for brushing
  • For the Yoghurt Dip
  • 250g thick Greek yoghurt
  • 2 tsp tahini
  • a squeeze of fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • To Serve
  • pickled chillies and gherkins
  • olives
  • fresh dates