Cherry Kebab – Kirazli Kebap

Mersin, Mediterranean Region
Preparation Time: 20 Minutes
Cooking Time: 45 Minutes
Serves: 4


  • 24 shallots, peeled 
  • 40 sour black cherries, pitted
  • 50g butter
  • ¼ tsp black pepper 
  • ¼ tsp ground ginger 
  • 1 tsp dried chilli (red pepper) flakes
  • ¼ tsp salt 
  • 1 cinnamon stick 
  • 400ml cherry juice
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice 
  • 60g pine nuts 
  • For the kebab mixture
  • 400g lamb shoulder, trimmed of sinew, 
  • finely chopped with a zırh (a curved cleaver)
  • 200g lamb brisket, trimmed of sinew, 
  • finely chopped with a zırh (a curved cleaver)
  • 60g onion, finely sliced
  • ¾ tsp salt 
  • ½ tsp black pepper 
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon 
  • 4 AÇik Ekmek, Ridged Bread
  • 2 slices toasted and diced;
  • 2 slices cut into 8 triangles


  1. Instead of the cherries, you can use sour cherries and mahlepi (mahleb) – an aromatic spice made by grinding the seeds of a certain type of wild cherry. If you don’t have a barbecue, you can use a regular grill (broiler). If you don’t have a zırh (a curved cleaver) for chopping the meat, use regular minced (ground) lamb shoulder and brisket. You will need four long cast-iron skewers or eight flat wooden skewers (soaked).
  2. Prepare a barbecue for cooking or preheat a grill (broiler) to high.


To Make The Kebab Mixture
  1. Knead the lamb, onion, salt, black pepper and ground cinnamon in a large bowl or deep tray for five minutes, until well combined. Divide the mixture into 40 equal parts and roll into balls.
  2. Thread the skewers alternately with three shallots, five meatballs and five cherries (shallot / cherry / meat / cherry / meat /shallot / meat / cherry / meat / cherry / meat / cherry /shallot). Make sure they are really snug. Set the skewers eight cm (three inches) above the hot barbecue embers and cook for 5fiveminutes on each side, turning every 30 seconds. Draw off the meat, shallots and cherries into a bowl.
  3. Alternatively, grill (broil) the skewers for three minutes per side. Heat the butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat, add the cooked shallots, black pepper, ground ginger, dried chilli (red pepper) flakes, salt and cinnamon stick and fry for three minutes. Add the meat and cook for a further two minutes. Reduce the heat, add the cherry juice and lemon juice and cook, covered, for 10 minutes. Add the cherries and cook for a further 10 minutes. Remove from the heat, add the pine nuts and stir through.
  4. Arrange the diced bread in pasta plates and spoon the hot dish over the top. Serve with the bread triangles on the side.



The Turkish Cookbook published by Phaidon RRP $75