Kebbab bi karaz recipe (cherry kebabs)

Kebbab bi karaz recipe (cherry kebabs)

Savory or sweet , but not both: Syrian cuisine almost never mixes one and the other... except in this recipe! Adelle suspects a Chinese influence, with the kebab topped with a thick, sweet lemon juice and cherry sauce. To make the recipe a success, you need fairly tart cherries, reminiscent of those that grow in Syria.

Ingredients (For 40 to 50 meatballs):

  • 500 g semi-lean ground beef
  • 3 tbsp. tablespoon of ghee (samneh)
  • 1 C. tablespoon of vegetable oil
  • 1 C. tablespoon of Syrian seven-spice (Aleppo spices)
  • ½ tsp. tbsp ground allspice
  • ¼ tsp. tablespoon of ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. tablespoon of salt
  • 100 g (¾ cup) dried cherries
  • 300 g (2 ¼ cups) fresh pitted or frozen cherries, thawed at room temperature (preferably morello cherries)
  • 250 ml (1 cup) water
  • 3 tbsp. tablespoon of lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp. tablespoon of sugar
  • 30 g (¼ cup) pine nuts
  • 4 small pita breads, cut into triangles
  • 10 g (¼ cup) finely chopped curly parsley


In a bowl, mix the ground beef with 2 tbsp. tablespoons of ghee and vegetable oil. Add the spices and salt, and mix well to evenly distribute the spices throughout the meat.

Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

With wet hands, form approximately 40 beef balls. Place the meatballs on the baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan of boiling water, place the dried cherries. Let boil for 10 minutes over medium heat, then drain the cherries in a colander.

In a food processor, puree the fresh or frozen cherries. In another saucepan over medium heat, pour the cherry puree and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the lemon juice, sugar and dried cherries. Continue cooking for 10 minutes.

Place the meatballs on top of the cherry sauce in the pan and simmer for 5 minutes.

In a skillet over medium-low heat, heat the remaining ghee. Add the pine nuts and cook, stirring, for 1 minute or until golden. Transfer the pine nuts to a paper towel-lined plate.

When ready to serve, distribute the bread triangles evenly on a serving dish. Place the meatballs with the cherry sauce on the pita breads. Garnish with pine nuts and parsley.

Excerpt from the book “At Adelle’s table, memories and recipes of a Syrian immigrant” p.34

@photo credit: Sylvie Li 2023

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