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Mahlab is a rare spice, popular in the Middle East. Mahlab is sometimes known as St. Lucie's Cherry.

Mahlab comes from grinding the beige kernels from inside a sour cherry tree that grows wild in the Middle East. St. Lucie cherries are small, measly looking things with a positively mean amount of black fruity flesh, but the mahlab kernels have a sweetly perfumed and floral aroma that is reminiscent of cherries and the nuttiness of almonds.

Mahlab's taste is nutty with a delicate almond sweetness, then with a bitterness that you also expect from almonds.

Mahlab spice is essential to Lebanese food and is used in Greek Easter bread - tsoureki.

Further reading

  • Hemphill, I., Hemphill, K. (2014) The Spice and Herb Bible, Robert Rose. ISBN: 9780778804932.
  • Norman, J. (2015) Herbs & Spices: The Cook's Reference, DK Publishing. ISBN: 9781465435989.