Moroccan Arabic: المسكة الحرة
Standard Arabic: المصطكي
In Morocco, meska horra refers to mastic, the hardened resin from the mastic tree (Pistacia lentiscus), a small tree or shrub which is native to Greece and the Mediterranean basin. It's worth noting that the Moroccan usage of the word meska in reference to mastic is a deviation from the standard Arabic word of mastekah.
Mastic is imported to Morocco where it's used in cooking as a stabilizer, binder and flavoring, most commonly in sweets and pastries. Traditionally, mastic was also valued as a natural chewing gum, since the resin grains soften and release a piney flavor when chewed. (Hence, chewing gum is also called meska in Morocco.)
Mastic is often confused with gum arabic, the hardened sap of the Acacia senegal tree which is common to sub-Sahara Africa as well as Arabia, Egypt and West Asia. The translucent dried resin grains of the two look very similar, but mastic has a little more aroma and releases flavor when chewed, while gum arabic is odorless and with very little taste. Small amounts of mastic and gum arabic may often be substituted for each other, keeping in mind that the latter will add no flavor.
Medicinal Uses of Mastic
Mastic has been used in traditional medicine for centuries due to its antifungal and antibacterial properties; it also contains antioxicants. It's been used to treat eye infections, digestive problems, skin inflammations, blood and lung disorders, coughs, and oral infections. In medieval times it was valued as a breath freshener and teeth whitener, while in India and Persia, it was used to fill dental cavities.