Mahleb, a spice is a dry kernel of a cherry stone, small and bitter in taste. It is oval shaped, long in size; with wrinkled skin which is buff-colored and and interior which is creamy in color. The spice is yellow in color when it is in powdered form and it is available all over the Middle East. Mahleb are sweet and bitter in taste due to the notes of almonds and cherries and it resembles to marzipan recipe. A pinch of this spice is more than enough for flavoring dishes which means it has a strong fragrant. This spice is strongly aromatic. It is made from St Lucie Cherry seeds. The cherry stones is cracked so that the seed kernel is extracted which is soft and chewy in texturewhich is then grinded to form powder so that it can be used.
Origin of Mahleb
It was originally used in perfumes in Middle East and in turkey. It became famous as spice in Turkey and was used for flavoring bread recipes. This spice is often produced in Iran, Syria and Turkey.
Culinary Uses of Mahleb and Cuisines Commonly Using It
The kernel seeds are grinded and are used in various recipes by adding it in powdered form so that it gives the dishes a strong aroma. In Greece, bread is flavored by adding mahleb and is garnished with eggs, it is a traditional mahlepi made at Easter time.
In Middle East, mahleb is used in flavoring breads, cookies, cheese and biscuits. In United States, Christmas cakes and pastries are prepared by adding this spice. It is often integrated in Mediterranean cuisines and in string cheese. In Greece, it is added in rich egg yeast cakes and in cookies especially at the time of Christmas and Easter and is known as “mahlepi”. In Cyprus, cheese pie and cheesecake are prepared by adding the spice which is known as “mehlepi”. In Turkey, it is added to Ramadan sweets and in Egypt, it is grinded into a paste by adding honey, nuts and sesame and it is served as dessert or as snack with breads. In Armenia, this spice is used for flavoring coffee cake, which is known as Cheoreg. Many mahleb recipes can be prepared by using the condiment such as cakes, cookies, puddings, pie, pastries.
Buying and Storing Mahleb
The kernel seeds are purchased from market and then grinded in a pestle, in a mortar, or in a coffee grinder, which is said to be the most appropriate one to be used. It will be ready to be used by specific dishes and it is preferably stored in containers, which should be airtight.