Onto Aleppo, for an inauthentic take on Kebab b'il Karaz, or lamb kofte in a mouth-puckering cherry sauce.
It’s supposed to be made with washneh sour cherries, which should be harvested in June around the ancient city, but for one reason or another I haven’t quite done that yet.
So instead I left the cherries to macerate in lemon juice and added pomegranate molasses to the sauce, which is probably totally wrong but seemed to do a trick. Piling the kofte and sauce onto slightly toasted flatbreads means the juices soak through the bread and it’s delightful.
500g cherries, halved and pitted
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
500g lamb mince
1 large shallot, finely chopped
1 tbsp dried mint
1 tbsp Baharat spice mixture
Salt and pepper
1 tbsp pomegranate molasses
3 tbsp pine nuts
Handful of chopped parsley, to garnish
Preheat the oven to 150 degrees.
Using your hands, mix the lamb mince, chopped shallot, dried mint, salt, pepper and Baharat together in a bowl.
Shape the mince into meatballs and push a pine nut into the centre of each one.
Heat some olive oil or butter in a large heavy-based pan with a lid and brown the meatballs. Set aside.
Blend half of the cherries into a puree and strain into the pan. Add the lemon juice, pomegranate molasses, cinnamon stick, salt and pepper. Add a little water if it’s very thick.
Bring to the boil and then simmer until syrupy.
Add the meatballs and the rest of the cherries. Crush the cherries lightly, coat the meatballs in the cherry sauce and cover with a lid to cook (about 5-10 minutes).
Melt a knob of butter in a small pan and fry the rest of the pine nuts.
Cut the flatbreads or pittas into triangles and bake for 5 minutes in the oven or until just crisped lightly. Lay them out on a platter.
Stir the lemon zest through the meatballs.
Spoon the cherry meatballs and all of the sauce over the flatbread triangles. Scatter chopped parsley and the fried pine nuts on top, and serve with a fresh chopped salad and yoghurt.