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Potluck Party Idea: Have A Middle Eastern Hafla

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I like to delve into the history, costuming, foods, and customs of places and holidays. World cultures and traditions are fascinating.


A Bellydance Party Theme

What is a Hafla? A Hafla is a Middle Eastern dance party, with delicious food, music, and guests who want to have fun and perform their favorite dances for each other. Dress up in your finest Middle Eastern costume and makeup, bring along some delicious Middle Eastern foods and put together a potluck that everyone will remember.

This would make a great costume party theme.


"Hafla" pronounced from the Arabic "Khafla" (soft "a" in the word) is a "get-together", party,ceremony for a family gathering,clan,religious ceremony which may have an intimate number of friends or many people invited.

There might be Belly-Dancing for entertainment, much food for sure, music, dancing , hookah smoking (nargila-waterpipe).

"Yalla Khabibi, (come dear friend), you are invited to our Hafla right after the evening prayers."

"A small, low-key social gathering centered around bellydancing and food. May include costume vendors and live music.

In order to provide students with a low-stakes arena in which to perform, as well as to expose them to the style of other bellydancers,"

~from the Urban dictionary.

Tips for a Successful Hafla

Good party tips to make your get-together a success

Invite in Style

A Hafla is something between a casual get-together and a formal dance recital. It is a little more complicated than the normal party where you only invite a few friends over. From experts who have lots of experience organizing a Hafla event, here are the highlights of their advice.

Do it big, do it right, and do it with style.

~ Fred Astaire ~

  1. Place: get a place large enough to comfortably hold the number of people you expect, dance floor space, and room for wares in the "souk". Large and roomy is better than too small
  2. There will be dancing, often barefooted, so be sure the floor is suitable. A Gym, ballroom, or dance studio works well.
  3. Easy to travel to and near to main streets or the highway. Be sure to have plenty of parking space.
  4. Separate spaces for the selling areas and the buffet line, with tables, chairs and dance area in another part of the room.
  5. Give plenty of notice, send flyers, use facebook events and signups, make start and end times clear for your Hafla.Clearly mark the finish time for your event on all publicity.
  6. Music is important so plan for your system and someone knowledgeable in charge of running the sound system.
  7. Be sure to gracefully segue the music and performers. Give each person performing respectful encouragement.
  8. Sign up some volunteers for cleanup and other important tasks. Do the same for a few solo acts during the dance times.

Moroccan Screen - Disguise the souk, or provide atmosphere

What do you want from your Hafla?

Just a little fun or a successful, entertaining event?

If you want to just have a little fun, why not gather together some friends and have some dancing, music, and a potluck buffet?

You may decide it is important to have a more formal event, which involves planning, and a certain amount of investment. Check over the tips and decide how big and how much financial commitment (and income) you plan to give to your party. Make some mint tea to sip while you mull it over...

Small get-together?

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Yield: 8 servings

Into a 6 cup glass or china teapot:

Pour boiling water, rinse and throw the water away.

Put in: 3 heaping Tbs. OOLONG TEA (do not use teabags)

2 heaping Tbs. DRIED MINT LEAVES

1/2 cup SUGAR.

Fill the teapot to the brim with BOILING WATER.

Allow to steep covered for 5 minutes.

Stir up the infusion and taste the liquid to see if it is sweet enough.

Strain into juice glasses (5 to 6 oz.).

Whatever the size of your event, dress up your invitations or flyers with some Middle Eastern themed clipart.

Have Fun At Your Hafla - Invite Performances

This video was taken at an actual Hafla. The dancers take turns showing off their stuff, and everyone enjoys it and has a good time.

Beautiful Tagine - Costume the table, too

A tagine is a traditional Moroccan terracotta pot used to cook Moroccan

stews consisting of a combination of meat or poultry and vegetables

flavored with spices. Over time, the word 'tajine' started referring to the

dish itself in addition to the pot.

While perfect for this party theme, it will dress up your table, anytime.




  • 4 ounces cream cheese
  • 2 Tablespoons mayonaisse
  • 1 cup chicken finely chopped
  • 1 cup pecans or almonds chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chutney
  • 1/2 teaspoon
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1/2 cup grated coconut


  1. Mix cream cheese and mayonnaise. Add chicken, nuts, chutney, salt, and curry powder. Shape into balls, Roll in coconut. Chill and serve.
  2. Good filling for mushroom caps, too.

Berber Style Vegetables - Use your tangine, dress up your vegetables

More recipes like this:

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  • 2 tomatoes - sliced
  • 1 large onion - peeled and sliced
  • 3 medium potatoes - peeled and cut into cubes
  • 1 large turnip - peeled and cut into cubes
  • 3 carrots - peeled and cut into halves
  • 2 zucchinis - peeled and cut into halves * 1 cup of green peas
  • 1 cup of water
  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • teaspoon of crushed garlic
  • 3 branches of fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon of ginger powder
  • 1 tablespoon of rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon of red chili pepper (to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon of ginger powder
  • 1 teaspoon of salt (to taste)
  • 1/4 teaspoon of pepper (to taste)


  1. If you are using a Tagine to cook this dish make sure that you set the heat on low. However, if you are using a normal cooking pot, you can set the heat to medium.
  2. Drizzle the olive oil in your pan, add the onions and let them cook for 10 minutes.
  3. Place the vegetables in the pan. First put the vegetables that take a longer time to cook (potatoes and turnip) then add the rest (carrots, zucchini, tomatoes, and green peas).
  4. Mix all the spices (rosemary, turmeric, chili pepper, ginger, salt, and pepper) in the cup of water. Add the crushed garlic to the water as well. Mix well.
  5. Pour the water with the spices over the vegetables.
  6. Cover the tagine and let the vegetables cook for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. From time to time, pour some of the sauce over the vegetables on the top.
  7. Poke the vegetables with a fork to check that they are cooked. The fork should easily cut through the vegetables.
  8. When the vegetables are done, remove the lid of the tagine, increase the temperature to medium, and let the sauce thicken for the 15 minutes.
  9. Serving: Serve this tajine with bread.

Curried Fruit Casserole - let your fruit join the party

I learned to make this when I took a home ec class in college. It is surprisingly tasty. Great accompaniment to the Indian chicken balls and any meats you may serve.


  • 1 29 -ounce can peach halves
  • 1 small can apricots
  • 1 29 -ounce can pears
  • 3 small cans pineapple tidbits
  • 10 maraschino cherries
  • 1/3 cup butter melted
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 4 teaspoons curry powder


  1. Drain fruit well. Mix butter, brown sugar, and curry powder. Lay fruit in a shallow baking dish, hollow side up. Dot all over with butter and sugar mixture. Bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour basting frequently. Cool and refrigerate for at least a day. Warm over at 350 degree for 1/2 hour.

Eggplant with Tahini - Middle Eastern Favorite

  • 3 medium eggplant
  • 3 tablespoons tahini
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 3 pieces of garlic
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil


  1. Poke holes in eggplant and broil until skin is burnt. Peel and mash. Mix other ingredients together and add eggplant. Mix very well. Serve as dip for pita chips.


Rose Shape Bundt Pan - For Party Poundcakes

Use this bundt pan for the Lebanese Pound cake recipe. It will lend a festive note to your potluck event.

Lebanese Poundcake - Scented with orange blossom and easy to serve

Poundcake is wonderful alone, with fruit or with refreshing sherbet.

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  • 3 sticks margarine
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 5 eggs
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 7 ounces orange juice
  • 2 1/2 cups walnuts finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons orange blossom water
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • juice of half a lemon


  1. Cream together margarine and sugar.
  2. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  3. Combine flour and salt, and add alternately with the orange juice. Mix well.
  4. Combine with walnuts, 2 tablespoons orange blossom water, and 1/2 cup sugar in separate bowl.
  5. Stir into cake batter. Pour into well-greased and floured bundt pan, and baked for 1 hour and 15 minutes at 350 degrees.
  6. While cake is baking combine water and remaining 1 cup sugar in a saucepan. Stir til sugar is dissolved and cook 1 hour on low temperature. Add lemon juice and cook ten more minutes. Remove from heat and stir in 1 tablespoon orange blossom water.
  7. Cool cake in pan 10-15 minutes . Remove from pan and spoon warm sauce over cake. Cover and allow to "sweat" for an hour.

Have a Rec Room?

In your basement or den, why not dress it up for regular Haflas in Moroccan style? You can be ready for any party or just practice your dance in the ambiance of your very own Casbah.

Classic Middle Eastern Luxury - Make seating area special

This isn't just for the party. A classic rug for spicing up your décor when the party is over.

Leave the floor space for dancing bare, and keep the audience seated in comfort with floor pillows on this carpet.


Arabian Welcome by PaulCowan

Sign the Hafla Guestbook

food monkey on October 27, 2011:

nice lens!

Jackie Block from SE Michigan on August 01, 2011:

These recipes sound wonderful. Thank you for sharing them.

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