Syrian Cherry Meatballs “Kibbeh m’Gerraz”


When I first heard about this dish my initial reaction was suspicion. Cherries and beef together? 16806827_10110388624230581_3963267603404361837_n.jpgYuck, I thought! I avoided making it for months, convinced that it would be disgusting.

At my last Shabbat dinner a friend of Syrian/Lebanese descent encouraged me to make it. Finally I caved in to the pressure and made a pan of them for the last Sephardic Shabbat dinner I hosted.

To say that they were a hit would be an understatement. Slightly tangy, sweet, and rich without being too greasy or heavy.

While I was inspired by several recipes, this one is modified to make it a bit lower in carbs (less sweet) and a bit more heavy on the spices.

  • 2 pounds of ground beef (or ground chicken/turkey)
  • 1/2 cup of bread crumbs
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons of baharat spice (sub out 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon, 1 teaspoon ground allspice, 2 teaspoon ground cumin, and 2 teaspoons of ground coriander seed)
  • 1 cup finely chopped yellow onions (I like to run it through a food processor to get it extra fine)
  • 3 garlic cloves very finely minced


  • One small package of tart cherries (about 60) (I used the Trader Joes brand)
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped yellow onions
  • 3 garlic cloves very finely minced
  • 1/2 cup unsalted tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoon canola oil
  • 1 cup hot/boiling water
  • 1 cup of room temperature water
  • 2 teaspoons of salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Dark brown sugar or lemon (optional)


  1. Heat your oven to 375 degrees16864687_10110364544077401_9189984642241162584_n
  2. Combine all the meatball ingredients in a medium-size bowl and mix together with your hands until well blended and the meat is very soft.
  3. Shape into small individual meatballs by rolling them between the palms of your hands, 1 tablespoon at a time. Place each meatball on a oven safe tray (make sure there’s about a 1/2 inch of space between the meatball and the tray).
  4. Prepare the cherry sauce by first taking your dried cherries and putting them into a bowl with the cup of boiling water. Let sit for 5 minutes until the cherries soften.
  5. In a separate pan, heat the canola oil. Once it’s hot add the onions, tomato paste, and garlic. Let cook o
    ver medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until slightly caramelized.
  6. Add the cherries, water, salt, pepper to the mixture. Let cook over medium heat for 7 minutes.
  7. Taste the cherries, they should be slightly tangy and only a little sweet. If they16864943_10110364544072411_5555551428177688348_n‘re super tangy add a tablespoon of brown sugar. If they’re super sweet with only a little tangy flavor then add a tablespoon of  lemon juice.
  8. Once you’re satisfied with the taste of the cherry mixture, pour the mixture onto the cherries. You can also add them to the pot but I personally think the meatballs stay together better in an oven. Ensure that the meatballs are well covered by the sauce, you can always add some water (not more then half a cup).
  9. Cover with tinfoil and let cook for about 20 minutes. Remove from oven and flip the meatballs and then let it cook for an additional 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes. Then enjoy!



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