Aros, Sitto’s Aleppo Turnovers

Published July 11, 2019

So many times, I’d walk into Sitto’s house as she was baking Aros, Sitto’s Aleppo Turnovers.
I remember that the aroma of Mahlab would waft in the air. I especially loved the flavor of this spice in those turnovers, filled with Mamunea or Dates. Sitto’s Aleppo Turnovers were her signature pastry and the memory of my grandmother lives on every time I make them. The distinctive flavor and aroma in this spice, used in many Syrian pastries, make it the epitome of our Aleppo baked goods!

Imagine my surprise recently, when I discovered that I was out of Mahlab! Those spice kernels, only grown in the Middle East, are not found on your local supermarket shelves. No, you either buy them at a Middle Eastern grocer or order it online. Recently, when I discovered I was out of it, I knew that there were any number of baked goods I couldn’t make without this important spice. To any Syrian cook, it’s Aleppo, Syria, indeed all of the Middle East!

Sitto’s Kitchen II cookbook describes this spice in the Glossary as pale, hard kernels, which are actually the inside of the pit of the wild small black cherry trees grown in the Middle East. It has a slightly almond sweet flavor, with a faint floral note, available whole or ground. My tip is to only buy it whole, if possible. Then, your freshly ground Mahlab will bring a more pronounced flavor, resulting in raves for your baked goods! Mahlab is so unique that while people can’t seem to identify the flavor, they know they love it! So many baked goods in the cookbook have this important spice. Sitto’s Aleppo Turnovers, called Aros, will delight your family and friends. Check page 33 for the recipe. After trying these, your freezer will never be without them!