Keftes Garaz: Sweet-and-Sour Syrian Meatballs

Keftes Garaz: Sweet-and-Sour Syrian Meatballs

“How To Put a Syrian Spin on Your Hanukkah Feast” via Tablet


1/2 cup pine nuts
2 sweet onions, diced
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 pounds ground beef
2 cloves garlic, minced
1⁄2 cup matzo meal or bread crumbs
1⁄4 teaspoon ground Aleppo or Marash pepper
1⁄2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1⁄4 teaspoon cinnamon
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon tamarind concentrate
2 teaspoons tomato paste or ketchup

4 tablespoons olive oil
1 diced onion
1 tablespoon tamarind concentrate
1 1⁄2 cups pitted sour cherries (If you cannot find sour cherries, frozen Bing or dark sweet cherries will work just fine)
1 1⁄2 cups dried cherries
Juice of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon ground allspice
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 cup beef stock
1 cup red wine
2 tablespoons chopped parsley or cilantro


    1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

    2. Mix ground beef with one diced onion in a large bowl.

    3. Toast the pine nuts, stirring often, in a small dry skillet over medium heat, until lightly brown, about 5 to 10 minutes. Remove to a medium bowl.

    4. Sauté half the onions in oil on a nonstick frying pan until lightly caramelized, about 20 to 30 minutes.

    5. Add the onions to the bowl with the pine nuts, then add the ground beef, garlic, matzo meal or bread crumbs, Aleppo or Marash pepper, cumin, allspice, cinnamon, salt, and pepper. Break the eggs into the bowl and stir in the tamarind and tomato paste or ketchup, mixing gently with your hands until just combined.

    6. Mold into small balls, about 1 1⁄4 inches in diameter. Put on 2 rimmed baking sheets and bake for about 20 to 25 minutes or until done, but still juicy. You should get about 40 meatballs.

    7. While the meatballs are baking, make the sauce. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan set over medium-high heat. Add the onion and sauté until transparent, then add the tamarind, pitted, sour or frozen cherries, dried cherries, lemon juice, allspice, salt, pepper, beef stock, and wine. Simmer together, uncovered, for about 20 to 25 minutes until the sauce is slightly thickened.

    8. Mix the meatballs with the sauce and serve over rice, sprinkled with chopped parsley or cilantro.

    Yield: 6 to 8 servings