Kabab Karaz-Venison & Sour Cherry Nests
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
  • 85g/3oz salted butter
  • 100g/31?2oz kataifi or sheets of filo pastry (defrosted if frozen), very finely shredded
  • 250g/9oz minced venison, lamb or beef
  • 11?2 tsp peeled and grated root ginger
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • a pinch of Lebanese Seven Spices (see page 211)
  • 6 tbsp kirsch
  • 1 star anise, cracked in half
  • a pinch of ground allspice
  • 250g/9oz morello cherries in syrup, drained
  • 1 tbsp pomegranate molasses
  • 25g/1oz/1/4 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  1. Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/Gas 5. Melt 55g/2oz of the butter in a frying pan. Remove the pan from the heat and toss the kataifi in the melted butter, making sure to cover as many strands as you can as you separate them into a loose pile with your fingers. Divide the kataifi strands among the cups of a 24-cup mini-muffin pan with 2cm/3/4in cups (about 2.5g/1/8 oz per muffin cup), pressing them into the bottom and up the sides and tucking in any strands to make 24 pastry nests. Bake in the oven for 15–20 minutes until crisp and golden.
  2. Meanwhile, put the venison, ginger, garlic and spice mix in a bowl and season to taste with salt and pepper. Mix well, then pinch off a little of the mixture and roll it in the palm of your hands to create a ball about the size of a golf ball. You should be able to make 24 meatballs.
  3. Melt 20g/3/4oz of the remaining butter in a heavy-based frying pan over a medium heat and cook the meatballs for about 10 minutes, turning often, until browned on all sides. Transfer the meatballs to a plate, cover and keep warm.
  4. Pour the kirsch into the frying pan, add the star anise and allspice and mix well to get all the flavourful bits into the sauce, then boil for 1–2 minutes until it has reduced by half. Add the cherries and cook for a further 3–4 minutes until the sauce is syrupy, stirring them with a wooden spoon and breaking the cherries up into pieces. Add the remaining butter and stir well to incorporate. Finally, stir in the pomegranate molasses and sprinkle over the walnuts.
  5. When the kataifi nests are ready, remove them from the pan and transfer them to a large plate. Put one meatball into the hollow of each kataifi nest.
  6. Spoon the sauce over the meatballs and then serve as canapes. You can wrap the nests in paper napkins before serving, if you like.
Recipe by Bethany Kehdy at https://bethanykehdy.com/venison-sour-cherry-nests/