Meat fingers with sour cherry sauce (Fishneyov khorovatz)

May 9, 2012  •  Category:


A dish that is listed in Armenian cuisine and that I had sampled a couple of times and liked very much. I saw some tiny cherries at the greengrocer and figured “now or never!”. In the book, sour cherries are  used and made into a compote. Since getting wild sour cherries that grow in Armenia and Cilicia may be a challenge, I would suggest using any type of cherry  and adjusting the sugar accordingly. 

The meat fingers are a combination of ground beef and lamb (to make it juicier) but you can use all beef if you prefer, just get one that has a bit of fat. 


  • 1 pound of ground beef (or a combo of 1/2 ground lamb, 1/2 ground beef), at 85%
  • Spices: salt, 1 1/2 tsp of red pepper powder (or chili powder), 1/2 tsp of allspice and seven-spice
  • oil, as needed
  • Sauce: 2 cups of wild cherry compote with 1/2 cup of water, a pinch of cinnamon and a pinch of cumin
  • 1 lemon
To make the wild cherry compote: get 3 cups of cherries, wash them, pit them and place them in a pot; add the juice of a lemon and let them simmer very gently, adding 1/2 cup of water as needed, for about 15 minutes. Add 3/4 cup of sugar and let them simmer until they look like a jelly. Test by taking a quarter teaspoon and dropping it on the counter; if the liquid looks syrupy, they are done. To use as a sauce for this dish, add 1/2 cup of water, the spices and mix gently simmering till it is thick enough to be suitable for a sauce.
  1. Sprinkle the spices on the meat and shape into fingers. Either grill the meat or (as I did), pan-fry in a little oil. 
  2. Add the cherry compote to the meat, mix gently and serve with flatbread or pita.


23 Comments  •  Comments Feed

  1. Sasha says:

    Lovely post as usual ! I’m actually making a trip to Beirut and was wondering if you had any great restaurant or market recommendations to share ? I saw in your Beirut guide that you love tawlet , are there any others that come to mind ?
    Thanks so much

    • Joumana says:

      @Sasha: I also love Mayrig, an Armenian restaurant in Gemmayzeh. There is also AbdelWahab on Monot street for traditional Lebanese mezze, which is excellent.

      @Karen: What do you suggest I rename it as? I suppose kebabs with cherry sauce would be the most appropriate.

  2. Arlette says:

    Marhaba Joumana
    Looks good and simple to prepare..
    Do you find sour cherry in Lebanon??? I know its available in Syria,
    one of Allepo’s famous dishes is Kibbeh Karzieh . (didn’t try yet)

  3. Rosa says:

    That looks mighty good! What a tasty combination.



  4. sare says:

    Delicious …
    We also have pilaf, made with sour cherry. I’m waiting the time which sour cheries comes on stales.

  5. samir says:

    this is actually made in Aleppo as well, Halebi’s also claim it as their own….kebab bil keraz, it is delicious..

  6. Jamie says:

    Wow!! I’ve actually been looking for a great “meatball” type recipe and since I LOVE sour cherries, sour cherry sauce and sour cherry sauce over meat this is it!!! Lamb definitely, plus I think lamb goes so well with fruit. What a simple dish, Joumana, but huge on flavor! Who doesn’t like sweet/savory dishes?

  7. Karen says:

    The recipe sounds tasty but could you rename it? Somehow meat fingers doesn’t sound very appealing but perhaps it is me!

  8. Belinda @zomppa says:

    What a great sauce – that tartness sounds perfect.

  9. Devaki says:

    This is so lovely Joumana! The sour cherry compote with the meat fingers nestled looks too inviting for words. I wish I could find sour cherries here – I can only imagine how good the flavors would work together.

    BTW, Love the pics of the gorgeous architectural Interiors 🙂

    chow! Devaki @ weavethousandflavors

  10. T.W. Barritt says:

    This looks fantastic – the cherry season is so short, that I don’t think I’ve ever really sampled sour cherries – the thought of a cherry sauce with savory meat is making me hungry!

  11. Mark Wisecarver says:

    I think this is another recipe that can easily be done with ground Turkey for those, like me, who do not eat red meat. To make it juicy just add mayo, Greek spices, bread crumbs and an egg. That room is beyond awesome, love it.
    By the way, I’ve been making Pita with Tumeric and everyone loves them, a lovely color and the added flavor is very welcome.

  12. lisaiscooking says:

    The sour cherry sauce sounds fantastic! I wish I could get fresh sour cherries here. I can find dried sour cherries, but the only fresh cherries we get are sweet.

  13. deana says:

    That all looks so good. I have a few cherries in the freezer from last year… never tried it with lamb before but it sounds wonderful.. will try!

  14. Chiara says:

    Looks tasty and easy to make, have a good weekend…

  15. C says:

    Looks great! Sour cherries may be my very favorite fruit to cook with. Must be my Danish heritage. I did not realize that Lebanese cuisine combined sweet with meat like Persian cuisine. Wish your site had a way to subscribe via email, RSS feed does not work well for me.

  16. la tavola toscana says:

    I’ve always liked the mix between fruit and meat, as the roast pork and compote of plum, apple or medlar. You just gave me a new inspiration I’ve to try!

  17. Cherine says:

    I love armenian cuisine! This is one lovely dish!

  18. Oui, Chef says:

    I love the name “meat fingers”, and I think the kids would get a kick out of it too as they watched me eat the whole batch by MYSELF!

  19. Peter says:

    This takes me back to last summer tasting soutzoukakia with a chef/friend’s sour cherry sauce and it was fab. Lovely recipe Joumana and now we can all make it!

  20. M says:

    This dish isn’t Armenian, It’s Syrian dish. It’s from Areeha town (in Aleppo or Idleb currently) where sour cherry trees fill the mountains. The original recipe is to meat meat balls not fingers and to add parsley. Viva tasty Arabic food for all humanity !

    • Joumana says:

      @M: I am merely transcribing what the Armenian author of this cookbook is presenting as an Armenian dish; can you provide a name or recipe. Besides, I am not interested in holding duel with people from different backgrounds as to who created what dish; the important thing is people from various ethnicities like to prepare it and hold it as their own.

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