Cincinnati Chili Arayes

Cincinnati Chili Arayes

(based on Yotam Ottolenghi’s recipe for Lamb Arayes in his cookbook Simple)

Serves four as a main dish, eight as a starter


1 pound 85% lean ground beef

½ of a small onion, about 3 ounces

2 cloves garlic, peeled

½ cup crushed or grated tomatoes (canned is fine, you can also use leftover tomato sauce)

1 teaspoon tomato paste

1-1/2 tablespoons chili powder

½ teaspoon ground cumin

A pinch of ground cloves

¼ teaspoon cayenne or red pepper flakes

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup Greek-style plain yogurt

1 egg white (may not be needed)

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Blitz the onion and garlic in a mini-food processor until finely ground, adding some of the tomato if necessary.  (Alternatively, you can grate the onion on a box grater and microplane the garlic.)  Put the mixture in a large bowl with everything else except the ground beef and the egg white and mix well.  Break the meat into small pieces and add them to the bowl.  Using your hands, mix everything well, being sure to squish the meat in your fingers to break it all up and combine it with the other ingredients.  It should be nice and sticky and hold together.  If it doesn’t, mix in the egg white.  Cover the bowl and refrigerate for an hour.

Assembly and cooking

8 flour tortillas, 8-10 inches in diameter

4 ounces grated Cheddar cheese

Olive oil or vegetable oil for the pan

Coarse salt

If the tortillas are cold, warm them up in the microwave for about 30 seconds so they’re pliable.  Divide the filling into 8 portions.  Spread one portion of the filling over half of one of the tortillas, leaving a small border around the edge.  Sprinkle the meat with one-eighth of the cheese, then fold the unfilled half of the tortilla over the filling.  Press down a little to make sure the top half sticks and the filling is spread evenly.  Fill the rest of the tortillas and set aside.

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a 10 to 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-low heat.  When the oil is hot, add two of the folded tortillas and fry gently for 3-4 minutes.  The bottom should be nice and brown, but not burnt, so regulate the heat accordingly.  Turn over and cook another 2-3 minutes until brown.  The filling should be cooked through.  Transfer to a baking sheet and sprinkle with a little coarse salt.  Wipe out the skillet with a paper towel and continue to cook the remaining arayes.

Serve warm or at room temperature.