Egyptian Meat-Filled Pita Pockets (Hawawshi)

Hawashi is basically Egypt’s version of the American hamburger. Egyptian cuisine typically draws on ancient culinary traditions, but hawawshi is actually a fairly recent phenomenon. Butcher Ahmed al-Hawawsh created this stuffed flatbread at a Cairo marketplace in 1971. His signature dish has already become ubiquitous in Egypt, and in the Levant (Arabic countries just north of Egypt) it is called Arayes, the Arabic word for “bride”.

Hawashi Egyptian Meat Filled Pita Pockets

Hawashi- Egyptian Meat-Filled Pita Pockets

In this recipe, store-bought pita bread halves are stuffed with delicately spiced and fragrant ground beef – it is basically an Egyptian hamburger. The recipe is done in about 30 minutes and it can be made ahead of time and frozen until you want to serve them. Hawashi make for a great meal or a perfect party appetizer.
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Course: Lunch, Main Course, Sandwich, Snack, Street Food
Cuisine: African, Egypt, North Africa
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 12
Author: My Hungry Traveler


  • Food processor (optional)
  • Large bowl
  • Small bowl
  • Colander
  • Large baking pan


  • 2 lb Ground beef (Sub: any ground meat)
  • 1 large Onion, quartered
  • 2 cloves Garlic
  • 1 medium Green pepper, cored and cut into large chunks
  • 1 medium Jalapeno pepper, seeded
  • ½ cup Parsley, bottom stems removed first
  • 1 tsp Dried mint (Sub: double amount of fresh mint)
  • 3 tbsp Tomato paste
  • 2 tsp Kosher salt
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 loaves Pita bread

Spice Mix

  • 1 tsp Ground coriander
  • 1 tsp Paprika
  • 1 tsp Black pepper
  • 1 tsp Ground cardamom
  • ½ tsp Ground allspice
  • ½ tsp Ground cumin
  • ½ tsp Cayenne powder
  • ¼ tsp Ground cinnamon
  • 1 pinch Kosher salt


Make Hawashi Spice Mix

  • Combine all the spice mix ingredients and mix.

Make Filling

  • Preheat oven to 400°F (205°C).
  • Add onion, garlic, bell pepper, jalapeno, mint, and parsley in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse a few times until finely chopped. Move to a colander to press out excess liquids with the back of a wooden spoon. If chopping by hand, chop all the vegetables finely with a chef's knife.
  • Move chopped vegetables to a large bowl. Add ground beef and tomato paste to bowl. Using hands or a wooden spoon, mix to combine. Add spice mix and incorporate completely.

Cook Hawashi

  • Microwave pitas for 5 seconds to help them puff up a bit. Cut pita loaves in half. Brush baking pan with olive oil. Fill each pita pocket with ⅓ cup of filling, using a spoon to spread the filling evenly inside the pita. Arrange stuffed pitas on the greased baking pan.
  • Brush tops of pita pockets with a little olive oil. Bake in a preheated oven for 15 minutes, then carefully turn them over, and cook until the meat is fully cooked and the pitas are crispy on both sides. Serve hot.


  • Hawashi can be refrigerated for 3-4 days. After they’ve cooled, transfer an airtight container and refrigerate. Warm up in the oven.
  • To freeze Hawashi for later use, wrap cooled pitas individually in aluminum foil. Place each in a freezer bag. Warm from frozen in the oven.


Calories: 207kcal | Carbohydrates: 3g | Protein: 14g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 54mg | Sodium: 474mg | Potassium: 295mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 126IU | Vitamin C: 12mg | Calcium: 25mg | Iron: 2mg

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