Olive Magazine

spiced lamb in toasted pitta

Published: October 7, 2015 at 2:51 pm
  • Preparation and cooking time
    • Total time
  • Easy
  • serves 4

So much Middle Eastern cuisine is interwoven and reinterpreted from country to country, but Lebanon gets the credit for arayes kafta, a fresh lamb-stuffed sandwich. Great party food to pass round or let your guests assemble at the table.



  • 500g minced lamb
  • 1 onion, very finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 50g pine nuts, toasted and ground
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 4 large pitta breads
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • from 3 pods cardamom seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • a pinch freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp chilli powder


  • STEP 1

    To make the baharat spice, grind the cardamom, coriander and cumin seeds and the cloves to a powder in a pestle and mortar or spice grinder. Tip into a bowl and mix in the remaining spices. Store in a jar until needed.

  • STEP 2

    Put the minced lamb into a bowl and add the onion, garlic, 1 salt, 2 tsp of the baharat spice, the parsley, pine nuts and lemon juice. Mix well and use your hands to squelch and squeeze everything together.

  • STEP 3

    Slice the pitta breads open and divide the lamb mixture between them, flattening the mixture to a thickness of 1-2cm. Close the pittas and push down so that the meat is fully covered by the bread. Heat a griddle pan over a medium heat and add the oil. Gently fry the pitta sandwiches on both sides until the pitta is nicely toasted and the meat inside is cooked through. Stick a skewer in the middle to check – it should be piping hot.

  • STEP 4

    Serve with a simple salad of tomato wedges, red onion and flat-leaf parsley dressed with olive oil and lemon juice.


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