Moroccan Hanukkah Tea
All over the world, Jews celebrate Hanukkah with lighted candles and deep-fried foods. In Morocco, the fundamentals are no different, though, of course, the details are. In Morocco, it is still celebrated with lighting the menorah eight nights in a row and enjoying fried foods, but some aspects of traditions are unique to this country, with plenty of tasty fried sfenj and Moroccan mint tea. The highlight is the tea – made from green tea, fresh mint leaves and sugar. Moroccan mint tea is a Hanukkah staple.
In keeping with the spirit of the celebration, a number of fried foods grace Sephardic tables. Traditional foods include couscous, which in the city of Fez is combined with caramelized onions and fried almonds and topped with cinnamon and powdered sugar. It’s also customary to eat Moroccan Hanukkah doughnuts, called sfenj, which are often dusted with sugar, eaten on the holiday’s third night. They are a fritter-like Moroccan doughnut made from a sticky, unsweetened leavened dough. Once it has risen, handfuls of dough are shaped into rings and deep-fried until golden and crispy with a chewy, fluffy interior.
Sfenj or sfinge (from the Arabic word “Safanja” which means sponge) is a Maghrebi doughnut, cooked in oil. Sfenj is eaten plain, sprinkled with sugar or soaked in honey. They are a well- known dish in the Maghreb. They are also called Khfaf in Algeria and other parts of the Maghreb. It is a Jewish-Moroccan tradition (hada) to make and eat them during the holiday of Hanukkah.