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Imagine a roasted, crispy pita with a smoked aroma filled with well-spiced, juicy, ground beef. That’s what arais is, made using an old Middle Eastern recipe. Moroccan grandmothers make it in a pop-up toaster, and the Lebanese consider it a street food. It’s made a comeback these days and is served in many food establishments. 

Serves about 10 

  • 10 pita halves
  • ½ cup oil coarse salt
  • pepper
  • tomatoes, cut in half (optional)


  • 1 lb (½ kg) ground beef (use a fatty meat or grind in a little sheep fat)
  • 1 onion,very finely chopped
  • bunch of parsley,chopped
  • 1 tomato, finely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp harissa (sweet or hot, to suit your taste)
  • 1 Tbsp pine nuts (optional)
  • salt and pepper


  • 1 cup tahini paste
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 cloves garlic,
  • minced juice of ½ lemon
  •  salt and pepper

Home preparation: In a large bowl, mix all arais ingredients into a smooth mixture. Put 2 Tbsp of the beef mixture into each pita half. Arrange all filled pitas, side by side, in a sealable container.

Cover and wrap container in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for up to 6 hours. To make the techina, blend tahini paste with water, minced garlic, and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper and transfer to an airtight container.

Packaging: Put container with filled pitas directly on top of ice inside a cooler or insulated bag. Keep the techina in the cooler/bag as well, and bring along the oil, a brush for the oil, and bags with salt and pepper.

On-site preparation: Brush pita halves with oil on both sides. Grill on all sides (including open side) until charred. Sprinkle with salt and black pepper. If desired, grill tomatoes until charred. Serving suggestion: Serve tahini alongside filled pitas. If you’d like, add tomatoes. 

NOTE: Another option is to grill the meat mixture stuffed into small peppers. Together with the tahini, they make a terrific combination.

(Originally featured in FamilyTable, Issue 649) 

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