This recipe was inspired by Ara’yes, a popular Middle Eastern dish where seasoned ground meat is tucked into pita bread and grilled. The bread gets crispy and slightly charred on the outside, while inside, the meat cooks and soaks the bread with rich flavor. The end result is better than any cheeseburger you’ve ever had. Even though traditional Ara’yes are made with ground lamb, I decided to put my own spin on this street food classic by combining ground turkey with Middle Eastern and Mexican spices. In place of typical hummus, I made a smoky chipotle cream for dipping. You can use whatever filling you like for your version of Ara’yes and they make great party appetizers! One note – I used standard pocket-less pitas, which were okay but I recommend a pita with a pocket, Naan or my homemade pita bread, recipe found here!
Grilled Turkey Pitas (Ara’yes)
- 1 pound ground turkey (85/15)
- 1 tsp. cumin
- 1 tsp. ground Ancho chile pepper
- 1 tsp. Kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
- 1/2 tsp. ground coriander
- 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
- 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
- 3/4 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil, plus extra for brushing onto pitas
- 8 – 10 pitas, preferably with pockets
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1 tbsp. chopped cilantro, plus extra for garnish
- 2 tbsp. adobo sauce from a can of chipotle peppers in adobo
- Place turkey in a large bowl and add cumin, chile pepper, salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, coriander, oregano, cinnamon, cheese and vegetable oil.
- Mix gently, but well enough so all ingredients are evenly distributed.
- Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, up to 24 hours.
- Whisk sour cream, cilantro and adobo sauce together in a small bowl. Refrigerate until ready to use.
- Pre-heat grill to medium heat.
- If you are using pitas with pockets, cut them in half. If you purchased regular pitas, roll pitas with a rolling pin until slightly wider and thinner. Cut in half.
- Spread a layer of the turkey mixture inside (if using pocket pitas) or on top of the pita halves. You want to use about 1/4 cup of meat mixture per pita.
- Pinch pocket pitas closed or top with non-pocket pitas with another pita half.
- Grill for 4 – 5 minutes per side, until meat is cooked throughout and the pitas are golden brown on the outside.
- Remove from grill, cut into quarters and garnish with sauce and additional cilantro.