Mahlab is an aromatic spice from the seeds of a cherry species. Its flavor is similar to a combination of bitter almond and cherry.
Bittersweet flavor. In the Greek cuisine it is the characteristic aroma of the Christmas, used in cakes and desserts, in pastries rich in eggs and in biscuits, at Eastern in the tsoureki (sweet bread) and in the New Year’s cake. It is also used in meat marinades and especially in lamb.
Mahlab is used in small quantities to sharpen sweet foods. Even when the recipe does not include mahlab in its ingredients, try adding just a pinch per cup of flour to your favorite sweet bread. Just like nutmeg and cinnamon, this spice can be added to savory dishes as well. Whole seeds can be added to a rich stew, or you can use ground mahlab in spice blends, rub it on meats or add it to marinades. Its flavor pairs really well with the lamb.