Moroccan Orange Blossom Water “Lma Zhar”
In Morocco, orange water is a symbol of luck and it has a strong scent. Orange water is served as perfume or freshener and it’s usually given in a special silver or metal container, called a siniya, to guests to wash their hands upon entering the house or before drinking tea as a sign of welcome and good luck but this custom unfortunately is fading away in the present day.
Due to it’s strong flavor because it is produced from bitter orange blossoms, Zhar is often used as an ingredient in traditonal Moroccan sweets and patisseries. Most recipes encourage cooks to use it lightly, because it can become cloying and overwhelming. Added to sugar Zhar can be drizzled over pastries and fruit salads for additonal flavor. It is also used in savory recipes and marinades, sometimes along with candied orange flowers or rose petals.
To distill the water, women pick the orange blossoms which are then put it in traditional baskets covered with a wet cloth to keep them moist.
Later, the women prepare Katara or the still and they usually choose the silver one because it gives the best results.
The still is in three parts; the bottom one contains the water for the distillation, the second one is the mix, and the third one is a container of cold water which has to be continually changed to create the steam that is part of the distillation process.
The first step to distill it is to check the burner heated from the gas bottle and hired along with the katara. After that , the women can begin the mix. In every minute, the top container has to be emptied to replace the hot water with the cold in order to continue the distillation. When the distillation process is over, the bottles are filled and left for forty days in a dark place to mature. The women brought tissues and they filled them with the left hot water in order not waste it and give it to visitors and guests instead.
Traditionally, only two women can distill orange blossoms that’s why the strangers are not allowed to witness this process but before that, they need to pray in order to protect the orange blossoms from the evil eye. Well, it’s the only way to bring you luck!!