MOROCCAN SPECIAL OCCASIONS
The population of Morocco is 99 percent Arab-Berber, and therefore Muslim, with a tiny minority of Christians and Jews. Religious holidays, family occasions, and guests all call forth gracious hospitality and an abundance of the best of foods. To mark the sweetness of the occasion it is not unusual for the festive banquet to begin with rounds of sweet pastries accompanied with glasses of sweet green mint tea. Eventually, many courses and dishes later, the diffa will likely end in the way it began: with sweetness as the theme.
For those Moroccans of the Muslim faith, the month of Ramadan, which calls for complete abstinence from food and drink through the daylight hours, is ended each day at sundown with the serving of the soup called harira. This is a thick soup of meats and legumes flavored richly with vegetables, lemon, turmeric or saffron, cinnamon and ginger and thickened with a fermented, slightly musty flour-water mixture called tedouira or sometimes with a clean tangy mixture of beaten eggs and lemon juice. This hearty soup is accompanied with mahalkra or shebbakia, pastries cooked in boiling honey. Platters of fresh dates, fruits, and coffee or milk complete the ceremonial meal.