spiced lamb in toasted pitta

  • serves 4
  • Easy

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.



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


  • 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.