refers to many types of dense, sweet confections
, across the Middle East
, South Asia
, the Balkans
, and the Jewish
This term is used to describe two types of desserts
- Flour based: This type of halva is slightly
gelatinous and made from grain flour, typically semolina. The
primary ingredients are oil, flour, and sugar.
- Nut-butter based: This type of halva is
crumbly and usually made from Tahini
(sesame paste) or other nut butters, such as sunflower seed butter. The primary ingredients are
nut-butter and sugar.
Halva may also be based on numerous other ingredients, including
sunflower seeds, various nuts, beans, lentils, and vegetables such
as carrots, pumpkins, yams, and squashes.
The word halva
entered the English language
as "halva" between 1840-50
from the Yiddish halva
. The latter
term came from Romanian
, which in
turn came from the Turkish
, a word which itself ultimately derived from the
Arabic Al ḥalwā
sweet confection. The Arabic
Most types of halva are relatively dense confections that are
sweetened with sugar
. Their textures, however, vary. For example,
semolina-based halva is gelatinous and translucent, while
sesame-based halva is drier and more crumbly.
This type is made by frying the flour such as semolina
in oil into a roux
cooking it with a sugary syrup. This is popular in Iran, Turkey, Somalia, India, and
halva, produced and served in India, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Iran, Pakistan and
surrounding countries (different versions of it are also found in
Albania, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece, Montenegro and Turkey), is usually
made with wheat semolina, sugar or honey, and butter or vegetable
, or other dried
are often included. Nuts such as almonds
are also commonly added to semolina halva.
The halva is very sweet with a gelatinous texture similar to
; the added butter gives it a rich
. The classic proportions of
semolina halva are 1:2:3:4, i.e. 1 part fat (a vegetable oil or
butter), 2 parts semolina, 3 parts sweetening agent (e.g. sugar or
honey) and 4 parts water. The semolina is cooked in the fat while a
syrup is being made of the sweetener and water. Then the two are
mixed carefully, extras added and the halva is left to
Turkish Un helvası
semolina based halva
In India, though semolina halva is considered to be essentially a
" confection, it is also quite
popular in South India
. A prominent South Indian version of halva (or "alvaa", as
it is called in Tamil) is from
Tirunelveli, a city in the state of Tamil Nadu.
A closely related semolina preparation
widely enjoyed throughout South India is called Kesari or
In Pakistan and India, carrots
), mung beans
(for moong dal
) or bottle gourds
) are also used instead of semolina. Prepared
with condensed milk and ghee
, without semolina
to bind it together, the end result has a moist yet flaky texture
when freshly prepared and bears some resemblance to a British
halva is popular in Greece and
has many variations. The Farsala recipe is
the most well known.
It is quite sweet, with caramel like
Nut butter based
This type of halva is made by grinding oily seeds, such as sesame,
to a paste and then mixing with hot sugar syrup cooked to
hard-crack stage. This type is popular in the eastern Mediterranean and Balkan regions, in
countries such as Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Romania, Serbia, Montenegro (тах'ан халв'а), Bulgaria, Russia, Greece and Cyprus (χαλβάς),
Egypt, Iraq, Israel, Iran, Lebanon, Macedonia, Albania, Syria, Central Asia, Southern India, Caucasus region and Turkey.
It is also
popular in Algeria and on the
central Mediterranean islands of Malta.
halva is popular in the Balkans
, and other areas surrounding the Mediterranean Sea. The
primary ingredients in this confection are sesame
seeds or paste (tahini
and sugar, glucose or honey. Soapwort
(called ‘erq al halaweh
in Turkish), egg white, or marshmallow root
are added in some recipes,
to stabilize the oils in the mixture or create a distinctive
texture for the resulting confection.
Other ingredients and flavourings such as pistachio
, or chocolate
often added to the basic tahini and sugar base.
Sunflower halva, popular in countries from
Eastern Europe, such as Belarus, Romania, Moldova, Russia and Ukraine, is made of
sunflower seeds instead of
Pişmaniye (Turkish) or floss halva is
a traditional sweet, prepared in Kocaeli,
Turkey, made by flossing thin strands of halva into a
Made primarily of wheat flour and sugar,
the strands are continuously wrapped into a ball shape and then
compressed. The result is a halva with a light consistency, similar
to cotton candy
. Floss halva can be
found in regular and pistachio flavors, and there are brands with
A similar pistachio-based version of Floss halva is popular in
North India. It tends to be slightly denser and is often referred
to as "Patisa" or Sohan papdi
Halva is the most common modern English
spelling and the transliteration
from most Balkan languages
. Other transliterations
The Hebrew-derived spelling, halvah
, may at times be used
to refer specifically to the Kosher
The word halawa
(حلاوة) in Arabic means 'sweetness' while
the word halwa
(حلوى) means sweets or candy. The word
comes from the Arabic word halwa
; the root
word is hilwa
Halva (Hallvë) in Albania is usually sweet and eaten as a dessert
at the end of a meal. It is made with mostly chocolate, but also
with vanilla (white halva made with either vanilla or just sugar),
or a mixture of half and half. Many stores all over Albania sell
this popular sweet in large, fresh and inexpensive blocks. It
tastes creamy, yet it melts in your mouth. The ingredients are
flour, butter, sugar, and other flavorings.
In Bahrain, the most popular form of halwa is Halwa Showaiter
, also known as Halwa
in neighboring countries.
Halva is widely used in Bosnia, and is available in different forms
kinds of halua ( ) are prepared across Bangladesh and neighboring Bengali-speaking regions of India.
of the most common types of halua include semolina (সুজির হালুয়া
), carrot (গাজরের হালুয়া gajorer
), chickpea (বুটের হালুয়া buṭer halua), flour (নেশেস্তার
হালুয়া neshestar halua
) almond (বাদামের হালুয়া badamer
halua), and papaya (পেঁপের হালুয়া pẽper halua). Halua is usually
eaten as a rich dessert, but it is not uncommon for Bengalis to eat
halua for breakfast with traditional breads, such as puris
) or parathas
Bulgaria the term halva (халва) is used for several
varieties of the dessert.
Tahini halva (тахан халва) is most
popular and can be found in all food stores. Two different types of
tahini halva are made - one using sunflower seed tahini and another
using sesame seed tahini. Traditionally, the regions of Yablanitsa and Haskovo are famous for their halva.
(грис халва) is made at home and can be found only in some pastry
stores. A third type is white halva (бяла халва), which is made of
sugar. White halva is popular on the last Sunday before Lent
(Sirni Zagovezni; Сирни заговезни), when a piece
of white halva is tied on a string. All the children at the party
stand in a circle and must catch the turning piece of halva with
their mouths.Almost all types of halva in Bulgaria are flavoured
with essence of Good King Henry
Halva is a sweet that is consumed in Croatia. It is not uncommon to
come across the specialty in the regions of Slavonia, Kordun, Lika
and Baranja or regions that at one point came in contact with the
Ottoman empire. Halva is especially popular in Slavonia during
"kirvaj" or local church fairs.
In Egypt, the name is halawa tahiniya (حلاوة طحينية). The word
'halawa' in Arabic means 'sweetness' while the word halwa (حلوى)
means sweets. It has many varieties such as plain blocks, and fine
fibrous halawa called halawa hair. Other varieties with pine nuts,
pistachios, and almonds exist in big blocks or pre-packed consumer
portions, or more recently energy bars (chocolate bar size). Halawa
is a very popular sweet enjoyed by a lot of Egyptians. It is eaten
for breakfast and dinner, and enjoyed with hot bread, sandwiches,
and sometimes with the Arabic equivalent of clotted cream
(قشطة, pronounced ishta
). It is a staple food that is enjoyed all over the
country as it does not need special storage conditions, and can be
kept in ambient temperature with no risk of spoilage.
Greece and Cyprus the term
halvas (χαλβάς) is used for both varieties of the dessert.
Sesame halva was produced in classical times. The dish was popular
in the Byzantine Empire
, and it is
very popular throughout the country especially during Great Lent
and other fasts. Halva is considered one of the most delicious
Greek desserts which is appropriate under Orthodox Christian
types of halva from India are
distinguished by the region and the ingredients from which they are
The most famous include sooji halva (semolina
halva), aate ka halva (wheat
halva), moong dal ka halva (Moong
halva), gajar halva (carrot
halva), Dudhi halva, chana daal halwa
(chickpeas), and Satyanarayan halwa (variation of suji halwa, with
addition of detectable traces of banana), kaju halva (cashew nut
halva). Tirunelveli a city in Tamilnadu state of India is called
In the indian province of
Kerala, halva is pronounced 'Aluva'. 'Karutha aluva' (black halva),
made from rice, is the most popular, although halva made from Maida
(highly refined wheat) is also available.
Iran and Afghanistan halva usually refers to a related
confection made from wheat flour and butter and flavored with
rose water Recipe.
The final product has a dark
brown shade of color. The halva is spread thin on a plate till it
dries into a paste. Halva usually gets served on funerals and such
ceremonies, often with almonds or coconut shavings on the
variation from the Caspian
region of Gilan is called
Asali Halva (literally honey halva).
It is different from other types
of halva prepared in Iran since it is based on rice
flour rather than semolina, and instead of sugar,
it is sweetned with honey.
is the Iranian term for tahini based halva and
may or may not include whole pistachios.
Also Ardeh is the name of processed sesame in the form of paste,
usually sweetened with syrup
sesame-flavoured tahini halvah (חלבה) is very popular in Israel and among
people of Jewish background all over the world.
"halvah" in English, it usually comes in slabs or small packages
and is available in a wide variety of flavours, chocolate and
vanilla being very common. The halvah is almost always parve
, meaning it does not contain any meat or dairy
ingredients, ensuring that it can be eaten with/after either milk
or meat dishes according to the laws of Kashrut
. Israeli halvah will usually not contain
but will contain sesame tahini
extracts (soapwort) which are not always found in other
region of the Levant - which includes
Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Jordan and the
territories, halawa is typically the sesame or tahini-based
form, which can be flavored in various ways and may include
pistachios, almonds or chocolate.
A large quantity of halawa
is exported from Lebanon throughout the world.
In Tunisia and Libya, it is called حلوى شامية halwa
or simply shamiya
which means Levantine
sweet, whereas the word halawa is never used.
In Macedonia, halva refers to a sweet which comes in a couple of
varieties. Halva made from tahini (sesame or sunflower) (Таан алва)
is most used in Macedonia. Most popular is the halva from Negotino.
Halva from semolina (алва од гриз) is made
only at home. Izmirska halva (Измирска алва) is a chocolate type of
halva made from flour, cocoa, sugar and peanuts. This halva is also
made at home.
Malta, the term ħelwa tat-Tork ( ) is used to
refer to a tahini-based block confection sometimes containing
pistachios or almonds. It forms part of the Maltese cuisine and is a common sweet snack
on the islands, especially served at the end of wedding
celebrations and during feasts.
There are various types of halva ( ) category sweets in Pakistan,
distinguished by the region and the content from which they are
prepared. Most common are the ones made from semolina, ghee and
sugar, garnished with dried fruits and nuts. Carrot halwa (called
gaajar ka halwa
) is also popular, as is halva made from
tender bottle gourds and chanay ki daal
|" چنی کی دال ".
Karachi Halva is a specialty dessert from
, the word Halva
while pastry maker is called Halvai
Romania, Republic of Moldova, the term halva is used to refer to a
sunflower-based (in Republic of Moldova it's mostly referred to as "halva de
răsărită". In Romania it's known as "halva de floarea soarelui") block
confection sometimes containing pistachios, almonds or
Halva is called helava in Slovene
a sweet that is consumed in Slovenia.
It is widely used, and became popular there
when Slovenia had contact with the Ottoman Empire
mostly eat it while drinking morning or
afternoon Turkish coffee
Somalia, halva is
known as halwo.
A staple of Somali cuisine
, it is a popular confection
served during special occasions such as Eid
celebrations or wedding receptions. Halwo is
made from sugar, cornstarch
powder, and ghee
. Peanuts are also sometimes
added to enhance texture and flavor.
Soft sesame halva is made from sugar syrup, egg whites, and sesame
seeds. Solid sesame Halva is made from pulled sugar, repeatedly
stretched to give a white colour; prepared sesame is added to the
warm sugar and formed on big trays.
The term helva
is used by Turkish people, to describe
(crushed sesame seeds), flour
, or semolina
called "tahin helvası
", "un helvası
", respectively. Yaz helvası
is the one made of almond or
walnut. Semolina halva (garnished with pine
) has a cultural significance in Turkish folk religion
and is the most common type.
Traditionally, halva prepared with flour un helvası
is cooked and served upon the
death of a person. In addition, some sweets and desserts are also
called helva such as pamuk helva
, a sweet like dessert which is
widespread in Turkey. In Safranbolu kos helva is also called "leaf-halva".
Afghanistan, Turkey and Iran, after the
burial ceremony, on the seventh and fortieth day following the
death of a Muslim, and also on the first anniversary, flour helva
is cooked and offered to visitors and neighbours by relatives of
For this reason, flour (un) helva is also
called "ölü helvası" meaning "helva of the dead". The expression
"roasting the helva of someone" suggests that the person referred
to died some time ago.
There is a Greek
saying Ante re
("Άντε ρε χαλβά!" - could be translated as "get lost,
halva"), which is used when the speaker wants to offend someone,
usually a man, by calling him a coward and/or chubby. Another
saying, dating from the period of Ottoman domination, states that
"Ρωμαίικος καβγάς, τούρκικος χαλβάς" (roughly translated as "A
fight among Greeks is a Turkish delight").
In Bosnia and Herzegovina (and also, to a lesser extent, Croatia,
part of the country)
and Serbia) the phrase "ide / prodaje se kao alva
or Styrian dialect of Slovene
" ("sells like halva
a colloquial expression denoting that a product's sales are very
high, similar to the English expression "sells like
Recurring references to halvah have been made in MAD Magazine
over the years.
- Halvah, Random House Dictionary, 2009
- Sesame Halva recipe
- Seasoning Savvy: How to Cook With Herbs, Spices,
and Other Flavorings By Alice Arndt, p.215
- Halva Ethnological Museum of
- Turkish halva
- Sesame seed and tahini production.
Dimitris Perrotis, College of Agricultural Studies, American Farm
School, Thessaloniki, Greece
- Suji halva recipe
- Aate ka halva recipe
- Moong dal ka halva recipe,
- Gajar halwa video demonstration
- Gil Marks, "The World of Jewish Cooking", (Simon &
Schuster: 1996) p.210
- http://www.haaretz.co.il/hasen/spages/952265.html Ha'aretz
Online: Four stops for Halva
- http://www.jewishexponent.com/article/16634/ The Jewish
Exponent: Hail to Heavenly Halvah!
- Barlin Ali, Somali Cuisine, (AuthorHouse: 2007),
- Halva from Tajikistan Nacion