Thursday, July 18, 2013

Sour Cherry Kabab: Kabab bil Karaz كباب بالكرز

Sour Cherry Kabab 

Sour Cherry Kabab or Kabab bil Karaz is a specialty dish from Aleppo, Syria. Aleppo is a city with heritage and history. It is located at the end of what was the silk road. It was a crossroad of my cultures such as Greek, Roman, Ottoman, Armenian, and French.  I never visited Aleppo and it is one of my major regrets. I visited Syria many times and love every Syrian city and village that I visited. For some reason, every time we visited Syria, we postponed Aleppo because we ran out of time.
Unfortunately Aleppo is currently a war zone. Many lives have been lost, many heritage sites turned into rumbles. I wish peace and safety to Syria and the Syrian people. Meanwhile, I will share with you this beautiful recipe of Sour Cherry Kabab and hope that one day, I will be able to visit Aleppo and feast on authentic Sour Cherry Kabab.

Sour Cherry Kabab is a feast equally for the eye and the belly. It is sweet and sour at the same time. The sweetness and sourness of the cherries perfectly blend with the richness of the lamb. The color of this dish is a bright purplish Magenta. So bright and beautiful like a computer generated color. It is traditionally served on pita bread cut into triangles and arranged in a circle, sprinkled with beautiful green parsley.

The challenge in this recipe is finding fresh sour cherrieS. I am lucky to be living in California because everything grows in this bountiful land. I found mine at my local Middle Eastern Market. While researching this recipe, I found that fresh sour cherries are also grown in Michigan. In case you cant get hold of fresh sour cherries, I would rehydrate dry sour cherries. Just make sure that no sugar is added.


2 lbs of fresh sour cherry
1/2 lb of twice ground lean beef
1/2 lb of twice ground lamb
1 medium yellow or white onion ground or very finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon of all spice
1 teaspoon of salt
1/4 teaspoon of ground pepper
1 tablespoon of butter
2 tablespoons of olive oil
pinch of pine nuts
1 tablespoon of flour
Chopped fresh parsley for garnish
Pita bread cut into triangles


As you probably know, I prefer to grind my meat at home using a food grinder. I talked about it here. You need to grind the meat twice for kafta and kabobs and three times for the Kibbeh shell. I grind the meat twice for this recipe. If you cant grind the meat twice, it is not a problem but it gives the meat a smoother texture. 

Here is twice ground lean beef

Twice ground lamb

ground onion
 Add all spice, salt and pepper
 knead to mix all ingredients
 Prepare the sour cherries.
 Remove stems and leaves, wash and drain
 Pit the sour cherries

Using an ice cream scooper (1 tablespoon), scoop the kabab mixture into balls, add a pine nut inside each ball.

 In a deep pan or cast iron, melt 1 tablespoon of butter and 2 tablespoons of olive oil
Sautee the kabab balls in batches until golden brown. Don't crowd the pan because it will result in boiling the meat and loosing the liquid.

Remove the sauteed kabab balls and keep them on a plate
 Add one tablespoon of flour in the pan and mix with a wooden spoon to thicken the sour cherry sauce
 Add the pitted sour cherries and stir until it forms a nice semi solid mixture. Let it simmer for a couple of minutes.
 Return the Kabab balls into the cherry mixture and let them cook for few minutes
 Meanwhile, open 2-3 pita bread on the seam and cut into triangles and arrange on a plate
 Ladel the sour cherry kabab on the pita plate, sprinkle with parsley and pine nuts. Serve while hot.

1 comment:

  1. you will make this kabab for us when you come to Beirut