sweet cherry-stewed meatballs - full of wonderful middle eastern flavours

This delicious recipe has a lovely sweet and sour hint of Persia. I have a confession to make, I have absolutely no idea where I had originally sourced this recipe (Bad Kelly!). I found a notebook with this recipe scribbled down in it and I suspect that this may have been based on a review in the New York Times of a cookbook by the American-Syrian writer, Poopa Dweck,  . . . yes, I too was entranced by her name too!
However, some internet research would suggest that this is typical of recipes from the Middle East, such as Syria and Iran, as well as Georgia, which has a very Mediterranean vibe going on as far as food is concerned.

Serves 6
Skill level: Easy

500g minced beef
100g pine nuts
1½ tsp ground allspice
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 x onions, finely chopped
1 tbsp tamarind concentrate (often sold in Oriental, Turkish or Middle Eastern shops)
juice of 1 lemon
1 tbsp sugar
200ml beef stock or water
200ml full-bodied red wine or port (or even red grape juice)
500g fresh cherries, pitted (or 200g dried sour cherries)
boiled white rice or pitta bread, to serve
2 x spring onions, finely sliced

  1. Combine beef, pine nuts and ½ a teaspoon of allspice. Season with salt. Form into balls or rugby-ball shapes, about 5cm long. (The mixture should make up about 12-16 balls).
  2. Heat 1 tbsp of oil and fry the meatballs over a medium heat, turning gently until they are lightly browned (about 3-4 minutes). Remove from the pan and set aside.
  3. Add 1 tbsp of oil to the pan and fry the onions over a low heat, until they have softened (about 10 minutes).
  4. Add the tamarind, lemon juice, sugar, the remaining allspice, the beef stock or water, wine (or grape juice if using) and bring to a simmer.
  5. Add the cherries and meatballs, partially cover and simmer for about 1 hour. Sauce should have thickened. Check seasoning to taste.
  6. Serve with plain rice or onto warmed pitta bread.


    Taste of Beirut said...

    From what I know Dweik is a Sephardic name and this is I think an Aleppine recipe; in any case, I love it and I would love to make it; a friend in Beirut told me about a place that sells these cherries when they are in season and I have got it noted! thanks! great recipe.

    Marmaduke Scarlet said...

    Thank you for this!

    Biut I ha1e to say too that I adore reading your site, it really brings your city to life. You paint a very evocative picture.

    On another note, I have a bag of dried limes and I don't know what to do with them. Suggestions please!

    mycookinghut said...

    I love the sound of this dish! It's really interesting to learn that you grew up in KL... do you have fond memories of the city?

    Marmaduke Scarlet said...

    Hi Leemei thanks for your comment. I have very, very fond memories of KL, many of which seem to revolve around food (not surprisingly!) It was a lovely city in a fabulous country and wonderful people. I thank my parents who gave me the opportunity to live there!

    Saffron said...


    The best use for dried limes (limu) I know is Najmieh Batmanglij's abgusht (dizi). http://saffronandlemons.blogspot.com/2008/01/abgusht-persian-lamb-soup-with.html

    This is also on my list of things to try (now that I've sussed out reasonably priced quinoa : ))http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2009/jan/03/vegan-quinoa-salad-recipe.