Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

mahlab (mahleb, mahaleb) a spice obtained from kernels of the black (or mahaleb or St Lucy’s) cherry, Prunus mahaleb. This tree is native to Asia Minor but now grows wild or in gardens throughout Europe. The stones of the fruits contain kernels, which are a beige colour and about the size of a peppercorn. These are quite soft and have a nutty chewiness. They are ground and used to give a sweet and spicy flavour to biscuits, cakes, and breads of Turkey, Lebanon, and elsewhere in the Middle East. The spice has also gained a foothold in Greece, perhaps via Cyprus; and it occurs in Armenian recipes.