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Lamb Meatballs in Cherry Sauce (Kebab Karaz)

Slofoodgroup Team April 20, 2022

Tangy Cherry Lamb Kabab with Pomegranate Molasses 

Kebab Karaz, or Cherry Kebab is a tart and sweet, meat dish from Syria. It is a wonderful Middle Eastern dish made of meatballs cooked in a sweet and tangy cherry sauce, usually served with flatbread. Although a summer dish, fresh cherries can be substituted with jarred ones to bring some warmth during the last winter months. The dish comes along easily and it feeds a crowd. For an authentic experience and for a burst of flavor, we recommend using ground lamb meat for the meatballs. In lack of, ground beef can be used, or a mix of ground lamb and beef.

Sweet and Tangy Meatballs with a Cherry Pomegranate Sauce

Serves: 4

Prep Time: 10‘

Cooking Time: 40’

Additional Time: 30’ 


For the meatballs:

  • 1 pound/500 grams of ground lamb
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 cup canola oil, for frying

    For the sauce:

    • 1 1/2 cup/350 grams sour cherry, pitted and halved
    • 1 cup/250 milliliters room temperature water
    • 1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses
    • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • Juice of 1/2 lemon

      To serve:

      • handful pine nuts, toasted 
      • bunch fresh mint (chopped)


        1. to a bowl, add the ground meat together with the finely minced onion, salt, pepper, and allspice; mix until all ingredients are well combined; cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

        2. while the mixture is resting, make the sauce; bring a saucepan over medium heat and add the cherries, water, pomegranate molasses, ground cinnamon, and lemon juice; bring the sauce to a boil, reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 20-30 minutes or until the cherries are soft; season to taste with salt and pepper.

        3. remove the meat from the fridge; using a scoop, form equal meatballs and set aside.

        4. heat a cast-iron skillet over medium heat with 1/4 cup canola oil; once the oil is hot, carefully drop the meatballs and cook for 1-2 minutes each side or until brown; remove and set aside; work in batches if needed until the meat mixture is finished.

        5. transfer the meatballs to the sauce and simmer to finish cooking for 10 minutes.

        6. sprinkle the dish with toasted pine nuts and fresh mint; serve warm with flatbread.