For the past few years, in the run up to Ramadan and Eid, I have found myself trawling through recipes of Middle Eastern dishes from across the region.
It's an occupational hazard when one works with hotels in Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Saudi, UAE, Qatar and - until 2011 - Syria. And it has meant many, many hours salivating over the most exotic sounding dishes made from all sorts of interesting ingredients.
One that really caught my eye was the Kabab be Karaz - the Alleppo Cherry Kebab, and it has been the subject of a rather long culinary quest.
The top prize was being able to try it in Syria, and I have regretted - with every cell of my being - having not eaten it when I made a brief visit to Damascus in 2010.
Three years on, having googled the kebab to death in as many different combinations of Cherry kebab + Dubai + Syrian food that I could try, I was starting to give up hope.
That was until one Lebanese friend mentioned Al Mayass. The Armenian restaurant tucked away on the beachfront of the Sheraton Abu Dhabi was the only place in the whole of the UAE that appeared to serve the dish.
So it was with high expectations indeed (I had, after all been waiting to eat this since 2010!) I turned up at the restaurant.
A couple of starters of cheesy pastry stuffed with Armenian sausage and a delicate, lemony quail served to very pleasantly delay gratification of the main event - the oh-so-anticipated Cherry kebab or Kebab Be Karaz.
Adding to the suspense was the way the dish turned up on the table, covered in a thin piece of Arabic bread that hid its much desired contents.
And then it was time for the reveal...
The kebab didn't disappoint. Covered in a sweet and tart cherry sauce that had a great syrupy quality that coated your palate, I have to say that the wait was definitely worth it!
The dish uses sour cherries as opposed to the normal sweet fruit. If sour cherries can't be obtained, then some recipes substitute it with normal cherries accompanied by pomegranate molasses to replicate the peculiar sweet and sour flavour.
I found a great recipe for the dish on gourmantic.com and I'm hoping to try to replicate it at some point in the near future.
Have you tried Cherry kebab before and do you know of any other restaurants in the UAE that serve this specialty? I'd definitely be up for trying a few more versions of this delicious dish.
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