La Boîte is a New York City spice store owned by Israeli-born Lior Lev Sercarz. I own one of his books called The Spice Companion, and wrote about it in this post. To say this man is passionate about spices in an understatement. His bio is fascinating.
There is a website for the store, called La Boîte New York that not only sells individual spices and spice mixtures, but also books, gifts, biscuits (they’re amazing!), chocolates, and more. But for me, what feels so generous is that recipes are shared if you sign up for them.
I also follow Mr. Sercarz on Instagram, called La Boîte NY, one word.
In fact, at the beginning of the Pandemic, I made his Tunisian preserved lemons because of one of his Instagram posts. I finally get to use them with this recipe for arayes.
I’d never heard of arayes until his Instagram post some time in 2020, and I couldn’t wait to make them. I found a recipe for arayes in Ottolenghi’s Simple, but didn’t like it as much. Maybe I found it too simple?!!
Jonathan Borowitz and Alon Hadar
1 pound ground lamb (I had to use beef)
1 small bunch of parsley, chopped
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper or Pierre Poivre N7
1/2 teaspoon baharat (I recommend 3/4 teaspoon)
5 small pita breads
Spicy Tomato Salad
4 tomatoes (I used cherry tomatoes)
10 fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
1/4 Serrano chile pepper
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 teaspoon chopped preserved lemon
Quarter the onions and add them and the parsley in a food processor and process until finely chopped. Strain any juice off. Mix the chopped vegetables well with the lamb, salt, and spices and let the mixture rest for an hour in the fridge.
Preheat your oven to 450 degrees and halve the pita breads. I grilled them first to give them grill marks. Brush with a little olive oil first.
Shape the meatballs, about 3 ounces each (so about 5?) and gently open each pita bread and insert one meatball. Spread the meat with your fingers so that it is filled evenly, then press the pita with your hand on a board so that the pita is flat. This will ensure that the meat will be cooked evenly.
Brush the pitas with olive oil on both sides. (Don’t do this if you’ve already grilled them.) Put the pitas on a wire rack and cook in the oven for about 8 minutes or until the meat inside is cooked.
Remove to a rack lined with paper towels to cool.
For the Spicy tomato salad:
Chop the tomatoes, chile, and onion and mix with all ingredients.
To serve, spread 3 tablespoons of tahini sauce on the bottom of a serving plate. Place the salad on top and garnish with the preserved lemon.
Serve with the arayes.
Wow! these are good.
And the tomato salad is excellent. Perfect with the arayes.
If you plan on making these for company, have everything else ready before you pop the arayes in the oven. They’re best hot, and the pitas still slightly crispy. I also suggest a light brushing of oil because the pita breads absorb the oil and look dull.
Thanks for this post. The recipe is unique and I am definitely going to investigate La Boîte.
I haven’t been to the store but the website is really impressive!
These look super yummy. I would love lamb, but beef is just as great!
I agree. Even a 50-50 mixture would be fabulous!
I haven’t heard of these, but they sure sound tasty! Thank you for sharing this Mimi!
They are definitely tasty, and addictive!
I love to learn about different spices, and I’m truly intrigued!
I have tried making something very similar before. It is very good but I think it really needs that bite of freshness like your delicious tomato salad with each bite. Wishing you a super weekend ahead.
I really did love the combination. But the baharat spice mixture makes a huge difference in the meat mixture!
I’m sure these arayes will find their way onto our plates soon. Thanks for bringing La Boite to our notice. I have been and had a look at his site and he has some really inviting recipes to share. I will have to make an educated guess at spice mixtures.
Thanks Mimi :))
I made something similar but without the salad. I checked La Boite site and he and Eric Ripert created a unique line of spices – The Voyager Collection I, II and III. I ordered I and II as I liked the blends. Most of all I enjoy Eric’s cuisine and cooking style!
Yes! I have a couple of those blends. Everything is so great and unique. I’ve given their seasonal cookies as gifts before, too. All wonderful.
What a delicious meal! I bought some preserved lemons and this is the prefect excuse to crack open the jar.
Yes! Exactly. That’s pretty much what I finally got to do with mine!
Wow, I love this , my kind of meal. I will look for you and the LaBoite on Instagram. Thanks Mimi !
I never heard of arayes either! But they look and sound utterly delicious and inviting. Stuffed with lamb patties and grilled pita – what not to love here? Loving this spicy tomato salad, too!
Exactly. What’s not to love. I’ve seen versions of these everywhere, but the spices make this meat different. Very addicting!
these look delicious mimi. I’m not a lamb eater so beef is perfect :)
The spice mixtures made a huge difference. I didn’t miss lamb, even though I prefer it!
I never heard of arayes either so I’m very happy for the introduction. This meal of the little pitas and salad sounds like something my husband and I would both enjoy.
Watch out. they’re very addicting! And if you don’t own baharat, you definitely need to get some! It’s wonderful.
I could just gobble that up! I love lamb mince.
Except that, because of husband, I had to make them beef… I once made kabobs with mince that was half lamb, and he didn’t even notice.
Mimi, just the list of ingredients made my mouth water. And, I’ve never even heard of baharat! I have grilled pita with the burger in it before – and agree, there’s nothing like it! But I definitely need to hunt down some baharat and see what it can do! Thanks for the recipe!
Yes, you really good. It’s an incredible spice mixture! You’ll love these.
oh yum! If my mom ever gets to New York again I shall send her shopping. I love this type of cooking and spicing, thank you for sharing :)
I bought the baharat on Amazon! I refer to it now as my local deli, since pretty much anything I need is there! And La Boite has its own website, although I have no idea how much shipping would be…
Never heard of this dish until now! looks really good and tasty
It’s really good! I’m not much of a burger girl, even as an American, but these I could enjoy once a week!
I love good spice stores! And good spices, of course. Such an interesting dish — not one I’ve heard of. Looks fabulous — thanks.
Well that makes me feel better, cause a lot of people have heard of arayes. Of course, there seem to be many different cuisines with something quite similar, with different names, but it’s basically a meat sandwich!!!
I have read about this guy and hear his spices are out of this world! Mimi, these look great. I think we would have such a fun time cooking together!
Oh goodness, wouldn’t that be fun! I haven’t been to the actual NYC shop, but it’s on my list as well. Tough to fit it all in when my husband has to always go see the Yankees…
I just adore a good spice shop, fortunately, we have a few in Toronto but my favourite it Carlos’ in Kensington Market. Unfortunately, they don’t have a great online presence so it’s nice to find someone like Mr. Sercarz and his shop, La Boîte NY, thank you.
Your dish looks and sounds delicious, will definitely give them a try. BTW, is ground lamb difficult to source in your parts?
Definitely. Lamb is not popular in the Midwest. In fact, if you talk about lamb even, people think you’re anti-cow, cause this is beef country! You can’t talk about tofu,either!
Wow — I can’t believe I haven’t hear of La Boîte before! Just added it to my NYC list. I love these arayes — and will look forward to trying them with lamb. Thanks for this — to be honest, I thought that to make arayes you needed to make the bread, too. Using pitas makes this so doable any evening!
Definitely. Very easy with purchased pitas. And it’s all about that delicious meaty filling!
Thank you so much ! Subscribed and started to follow on IG ! Wonder if they deliver to Europe…. must ask….. what a great news !!!
I have no idea! But you’ll love their spices and other goodies if you can get them!
I’m not familiar with arayes, but this sounds like a delicious recipe! I love the bonus grilled flavor on the pita bread. Also, I’m putting La Boîte on the list of places to check out whenever I make my way down to NYC again!
I need to go as well. But they do have a fabulous website!
I can practically smell those spices through your writing!
Well that’s a compliment! Thanks!