Inside the Spice Cabinet: Mahleb
Mahleb, or mahlab, is the seed of a particular sour cherry tree native to Iran and the ground spice is used widely in Middle Eastern baking, for a flavor reminiscent of both sour cherries and bitter almonds.
What Is Mahleb?
Taste: Bitter, sweet
Most Popular Use: Baked goods
Mahleb seeds are extracted from the cracked cherry pits and then dried before being sold as a spice. The kernels are tan-colored and quite small, only about 1/4 inch or so across. The whole spice can be easily ground in a grinder, or using a mortar and pestle.
How To Use Mahleb
It’s nutty, slightly sour flavor is found in a lot of traditional sweet breads throughout the Middle East, as well as Greek tsoureki and Turkish kahvalti corekleri. Even if the recipe doesn’t specifically call for it, try adding a scant teaspoon per cup of flour in your favorite sweet breads.