Meat Balls with Morello Cherries | Turkish Eats

This a delicacy from the city of Gaziantep in Turkey and it calls for fresh morello cherries. Unfortunately, it is difficult to find these cherries in America.  Fortunately, they are now available in light syrup in Trader Joe's and some online gourmet stores. You can also use sun dried cherries if you can find them.  


  • 1 lb ground beef, lamb or veal
  • 1.5 lb fresh cherries
  • 2 small onions
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 small tomato
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon all spice
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley for garnish
  • 2-3 tablespoons of flour


  1. Wash the cherries.
  2. Squeeze the juice of approximately one third of the cherries, set aside.  If you are using cherries in light syrup, you can just use the juice from the container.
  3. Mix the meat, salt, black pepper, red pepper and all spice in a mixing bowl.
  4. Spread 1-2 tablespoons of flour on a flat plate.
  5. Make small meatballs (1/2 inch diameter) and gently place them on the plate. The flour prevents the meat balls from sticking to each other. Use your fingers to mix the meat balls so that each ball is evenly coated with flour.
  6. Finely dice the tomato, set aside.
  7. Finely chop the onion.
  8. Heat 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil in a non-stick pot, add the meat balls and brown them slightly at medium heat. Take the meat balls from the pan, set aside.
  9. Add the chopped onions to the pan and sautee them in olive oil until they are soft and shiny. You may have to add a little more oil if there is not enough left for sauteeing the onions.
  10. Add the diced tomato and cook for a few more minutes.
  11. Add the meat balls, cherry juice, lemon juice, 1/2 cup water; Bring to a boil and simmer for 30 minutes.
  12. Add the remaining cherries, bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
  13. Garnish with chopped parsley.
© Mehmet Ozturk 2017