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Shared by Rottem Lieberson

Meatballs With Cherries

Yield: 4-6 servingsTime: 45 min

Shared by Rottem Lieberson

Meatballs and cherries with sliced mint leaves in ceramic dish atop yellow floral tablecloth.
Photographer: Penny De Los Santos. Food Stylist: Judy Haubert. Prop Stylist: Mariana Velasquez.

Meatballs With Cherries

Yield: 4-6 servingsTime: 45 min

Family Journey

Tehran, IranSha’ar Haliyah (near Haifa), IsraelJerusalem
Tel Aviv

Rottem Lieberson’s grandmother Hanom was a master at removing the pits from cherries, deftly approaching the task with a knife. Today, Rottem uses a cherry pitter and says she still can’t master her grandmother’s speed. This recipe is Rottem’s own creation. She recommends serving it with white rice to soak up the rich and tangy sauce.

Read more about Rottem's family in "The Shavuot Pasta on the Laundry Line" and try her recipe for pasta with yogurt, beans, and herbs.


For the meatballs

  • 1 pound ground lamb
  • 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon baharat spice mix
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt 
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper 
  • ½ cup fresh parsley leaves, finely chopped
  • ½ cup fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tablespoons breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil for frying

For the sauce

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup beef broth, chicken broth or water
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • ⅓ cup fresh lemon juice
  • ½ green chili, finely chopped
  • 1 cup pitted fresh cherries or defrosted frozen cherries (plus 1 more cup if not using sour plums) 
  • 1 cup small green sour plums (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon plum jam or sugar
Main CoursesMeat Middle East


  • Step 1

    Prepare the meatballs: Mix the lamb, onion, baharat, salt, pepper, parsley, mint, egg, and breadcrumbs in a medium bowl until combined well. Take 1 ½ teaspoons of the mixture and form a small meatball. Place the meatball onto a tray or plate.  Repeat with the remaining mixture. Place a large skillet over medium high heat and add 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil. Once the oil is hot, place the meatballs into the skillet and sear them on all sides until deep golden brown, about 3 to 5 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate and set aside.

  • Step 2

    Make the sauce: Heat up the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and saute until golden. Add the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes. Add the broth or water into the pot, the soy sauce, lemon juice, chili, cherries, plums (if using) and plum jam or sugar. Stir well and bring the mixture to a boil over high heat. Gently place the meatballs into the boiling mixture, cover the pot with a lid and cook for 15 minutes on a low flame. Remove the lid, and continue cooking the mixture until the sauce reduces and coats the meatballs. 

  • Step 3

    Serve hot with a side of rice.