Ramadan in Morocco officially commenced on May 6th, 2019. In order to balance work and household duties, many Moroccan women spend weeks preparing for Ramadan. Ramadan is a holy month which involves fasting between the hours of sunrise to sunset. Iftar (Ftour) is the traditional breakfast to break the fast, it begins after the sun disappears from the horizon. In some cities, cannonballs are fired or the muezzin sounds; which indicates breakfast can commence.
Moroccan women spend weeks preparing for Ramadan
One of the most important steps for a successful Ramadan is preparation. On the Iftar shopping list, you will find spices like cinnamon, cumin, saffron, and pepper; condiments like vinegar and butter; dates, honey, and orange blossom water for natural sweeteners; and almonds and sesame seeds. These ingredients are used to make essential Ramadan foods like chebakia – a flower shaped cookie soaked in honey – and rich, nutty sesame sweet referred to as sellou, also called sfouf or less commonly zmita.
Sellou is considered the most time-consuming Iftar food to make. Sellou’s primary ingredient is unhulled sesame seeds, which are purchased unhulled. To prepare sellou, the seeds must be cleaned to remove debris; some families start this process months in advance. Additionally, many treats call for almonds that are blanched or fried. Almonds can be peeled, fried, and frozen a few months ahead of time.
Beyond traditional Moroccan sweets, Iftar meals always include a harira soup made from chickpeas – which must be soaked, tomato pulp, and generous amounts of celery, parsley, and cilantro. One trick that Moroccan women have learned to make this process easier is to batch freeze ingredients. After soaking and peeling, chickpeas can be stored in the freezer. Similarly, herbs can be washed, minced, and then combined and frozen in ice cube trays or ziplock bags. In Morocco’s rural region harira soup is white and made with barley which takes less preparation time.
In addition to proper shopping, an important part of Ramadan is to purify one’s house, especially the kitchen area. As Ramadan is considered a holy month involving a lot of praying and reading from the Quran, it is important to care for your personal space.
For travelers visiting Morocco during the sacred month of Ramadan, the traditional Iftar meal can be enjoyed throughout Morocco in a private home, at restaurants or hotels.