Recipe: Syrian Lamb kebabs with Sour Cherries | Kebab Karaz

I can almost hear it; the hiss and sizzle of grills waking up from their long winter naps. It’s warm in Oklahoma and we’re ready to move our kitchen outside, into the sparkling sun.

Today’s inspiration comes from Syria and the pucker of sour cherries, which will be in season sometime in the next few weeks, depending where in the world you live.

Syrian Lamb Kebabs with Cherries can be made two different ways. The first is easy – you string up the meat along with the sour cherries. The second involves creating a gravy of sorts with the sour cherries and serving the whole shebang on a platter over pita bread. The latter is more of a winter dish, so we’re going all summer, all the way.

The distinctive seasoning in these kebabs is baharat (we’ll have that recipe posted very soon), but if you don’t have time to make any, add some pepper, allspice, and cinnamon, plus a pinch of clove and nutmeg  to this recipe and you’ll be good to go.

Makes 6 skewers


1 lb ground lamb
2 tsp homemade baharat
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
salt & pepper

1 jar sour cherries, fresh or jarred
skewers, for grilling


Let’s build some towers. Like this… but with meat:

Palmyra, Syria. Photo by Zelidar.

Palmyra, Syria. Photo by Zelidar.

To get started, thoroughly mix the lamb with the spices. The best tool for the job is your hands. Really work it. Then cover and refrigerate at least an hour, but overnight is fine, too.

Shape into balls and thread onto skewers , alternating with the sour cherries.

“Look, mama, you made a pattern!” said Ava, at this moment.

Cook on an oiled, medium-hot grill, turning once, until the meat is cooked through. You can also make these inside on a grill pan, if your door happens to be blocked by a giant table. You know, if that’s where you happen to take your blog photos …. (ahem). with some crazy, curly hair.

Seriously. When did that happen?

Enjoy kebab bliss.


Are you ready to fire up the outdoor grill yet, or is it too cold where you are?

Also, do you see this kebab as a special occasion treat or something you’d make any ol’ day?



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  1. Never cooked (or bought) sour cherries – Phil, my husband grew up in Michigan and always talked about a certain pie and how it had to be made with sour cherries from the region…

    this kebabs seem pretty amazing to me, I might have to convince Phil that buying a bottle of sour cherries is not a capital sin! ;-)

  2. annaclarice says:

    It looks easy enough to whip up on a weeknight. I’ve made something very similar in the past. Mine were made with seasoned ground lamb wrapped around a red grape and then grilled and served with pita and taziki sauce.

    • Sasha Martin says:

      Oh, that’s a fun surprise inside! I suppose that could be done with the cherries, too. Interesting, Anna :)

  3. Christina says:

    Your recipe calls for 2 tsp homemade baharat–do you have a recipe for the baharat you made?

    Sour cherries are next to impossible to find here in Florida–not enough midwesterners have moved here, I guess. And if I ask for sour cherries, store proprietors look at me funny–you have to ask for *tart* cherries, because that is what they are officially called on wholesale lists. Another huge difference for me is the lack of cinnamon rolls. In Kansas, most towns have someone who sells cinnamon rolls that are as big as plates. In Florida, if you manage to find cinnamon rolls, they are likely made from biscuit dough, which is not the same at all. It is all because soft wheat grows in the South & hard wheat grows in the North. Soft wheat is good for biscuits & cakes; hard wheat is good for yeast breads.

  4. I’m one of the few lucky people in Paris to actually have a place to do outdoor grilling, and in normal years the season would start about this time … but we’ve had the coldest, wettest spring I can remember since I moved here thirteen years ago, and it doesn’t look like it’s getting any better any time soon.

    But when the rain eventually stops (it must, right??), I will definitely try these — and I love the idea of putting the sour cherries inside the meatballs!

  5. Patricia says:

    Made these last night and they were quite yummy! I really liked the spice mix. Should have made some tzatziki to go along with it. Now I’ll have to try the Hungarian cherry soup to use up all the extra cherries.


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