2 lb ground beef / lamb (20% fat is best)
2 large tomatoes (or 4 roma)
2 medium onions
2 green chili (choose the spice level as you want)
4 garlic cloves
2.5 tsp salt
2 tsp black pepper
½ tsp cayenne pepper
⅛ tsp nutmeg
8 pita bread
200 g stretchy cheese (optional)
60 ml vegetable oil
Cut the onion and green chilis into rough chunks, then add them to a food processor along with the garlic (or chop fine by hand).
Grate the tomatoes and add them to a fine mesh strainer as you go. The goal here is to remove some of the moisture from the tomatoes, but not all of it. Combine the vegetable mixture with the tomatoes and the ground meat. Add the spices in, and mix well by hand until everything is evenly incorporated. Let the mixture rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to firm up.
Preheat the oven to 400 F. Cut each of the pita in half and open up a pocket, being careful not to tear the pita too much. You can heat these up in the microwave for 30 seconds to make them more pliable and easier to work with. Grab a ball of the meat mixture, and stuff it into the back of the pita. Try not to overstuff, but as long as it fits in the pita then it’s fine. Squish from the inside edge of the pita to spread the meat mixture around, adding some as you need. If you’re using cheese, add a layer above the meat within the pita. Complete this with all the pitas and meat mixture. Depending on how full you stuff these, you may be left with some extra pita.
Rub a small amount of vegetable oil on each of the pita pockets. Lightly wrap each in parchment paper. Do not use an excess and fold over, or only one side of the pita pocket will brown adequately, and the hawawshi will be soggy on one side. Place each of the parchment wrapped hawawshi onto baking sheets with a layer of parchment on them. Bake them at 400 F for about 45 minutes, flipping them halfway through. Reserve onto wire racks and serve as soon as possible, traditionally with fries and pickles.
Crispy meat-stuffed pita pockets that are a common street food in Egypt. The spices and vegetables in the meat mixture give this sandwich some nice complexity of flavor. This dish came about in the early 70s in Egypt, and has since become popular in neighboring parts of the world like Africa and the Middle East, taking on various names. This dish is relatively easy to prepare for a crowd, and reheats well in the air-fryer.