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Kebab Karaz

Meatballs in sour cherry sauce

Serves 5-6

Preparation and cooking 1 hour

Kebab karaz is traditionally made with special sour cherries that grow around Aleppo called Washneh that are harvested during cherry season in June. They’re known as Saint Lucie’s cherries in English. They can be difficult to find outside of Syria fresh or frozen morello cherries can be substituted. It is also possible to use dried sour cherries that have been soaked in water.



500g minced lamb

1 small onion

1½ teaspoon Aleppo bhar spice mix or Lebanese seven spice powder*

1 tablespoon cinnamon

2 teaspoons salt

1kg sour cherries, pitted

100g sugar

2 Arabic flatbreads

2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted

Ground cinnamon and chopped parsley to garnish

*Lebanese seven spice powder can be found in most Middle Eastern supermarkets. Otherwise you can make your own Aleppo bhar by mixing ½ tsp allspice, ¼ tsp ground black pepper, ¼ tsp ground cinnamon, ¼ tsp ground nutmeg, ¼ tsp ground cardamom, ¼ tsp ground cloves



In a food processor, mix together the minced lamb, onion, bhar or seven spice powder, 1 teaspoon of the cinnamon and 1½ teaspoons of the salt until well combined and the onion is finely minced. You can also finely grate the onion into the lamb and knead them with the spices until well combined.

Divide the meat into golf-sized balls, about 20g each. Moistening your hands with water will keep the meat from sticking to them.

You can either skewer the meatballs and grill them, or you could bake them in an oven preheated to 180C until they are nearly fully cooked, about 10 minutes.

Set aside 200g of the cherries. Blend the rest in a food processor or blender and then strain them over a bowl to collect the juice. You should have around 450ml of juice.

Place the juice, sugar and remaining cinnamon and salt in a sauce pan and cook over medium heat, stirring well. Bring the juice to a boil and then lower the heat and simmer for around 8 minutes, or until the it thickens slightly. You can adjust the flavour by adding a little more salt or sugar or some lemon juice according to your taste, allowing the mixture to cook together for a few minutes.

Add the meatballs and the reserved cherries to the sauce and continue to simmer until the meatballs and cherries are heated through.

Cut the pita bread into eights so you have 16 triangles and use them to line the bottom and sides of a serving platter so that one of the tips of the triangles is facing outwards.

Spoon the meatballs and cherry sauce onto the bread. Sprinkle the pine nuts, parsley and cinnamon on top and serve immediately.


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