Churban: Sweet & Spicy Meat Sauce (Plus a Vegan Alternative)

ChurbanGet ready for a dish that’s so easy to make, it’s going to make [insert-your-most-easily-done-activity] look difficult. I’m serious. It’s one of those things that belongs in the arsenal of secrets that super-moms keep. It’s delicious, satisfies both grownups and kids, nutritious, and is ready within minutes. Did I mention it’s really, really, really easy to make?

This is a dish my mother learned from her Iraqi friend. The twist in flavor here comes from Baharat, a spice that stars in many Iraqi dishes, and which I personally am a huge fan of. In Israel it can be found in the spice section of most markets (or in spice stores), and in the states it can be found in ethnic stores. Yeah, one of those stores where you have no chance of reading the labels on anything. If you absolutely can’t find it, or ran out and must have this dish now, just mix equal parts ground cinnamon and ground cumin. It’s not exactly the same, but it will do the trick.

This is seriously one of the simplest things to make, and although it doesn’t necessarily look like you’ve put huge amounts of time into it, when you nail the spices correctly the flavor is unbeatable and irresistable.

Originally the sauce is made with ground or diced chicken, but I usually have ground beef lying around the freezer so that’s what I use. When I dip into one of my vegan or vegetarian phases, I replace the ground meat with soy grits leftover from making soy milk.

The name “churban” (pronounced: chure-bahn) must be something that was lost in translation or something, because I’ve searched all over the internet for it and couldn’t find anything by that name. But that’s what we call it now in the Graceful Residence, so that is how I’m presenting it to you!


Serves: 5
Estimated time: 10-15 minutes
Kosher Classification: Meat (or Neutral, if using the vegan version)


500 grams ground beef OR soy bits
3-4 Tbs. ketchup
3-4 Tbs. honey
1 Tbs. Baharat (or mix of equal parts ground cumin and ground cinnamon)
1/2 tsp red chilli flakes
Pinch of salt
A bit of oil


Start by heating a medium pot over medium heat. Add a bit of oil to the pot. Add the meat (or soy bits) to pot and stir, until meat is just cooked through.

Soy grits

Add ketchup, honey, and spices, and stir well until thoroughly combined.

Add other ingredients

That’s it. It’s done. See? Told you it was the simplest ever.


Serve hot, preferably over rice.

Churban made with soy

In A Nutshell:

  1. Heat medium pot over medium heat. Add oil.
  2. Add meat to pot and break apart until just cooked through.
  3. Add ketchup, honey, and spices. Stir thoroughly.
  4. Serve over rice.

One thought on “Churban: Sweet & Spicy Meat Sauce (Plus a Vegan Alternative)

  1. נדמה לי שמקור המתכון (והשם המקורי שלו) הוא של אופיר, חבר של לימור

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