As I mentioned in my last post, I came across more Halva while perusing the New York City bakery scene. This time it was swirled and coated with chocolate, but still had that characteristic sweet sesame seed taste and firm nougat-like. Being curious about where this stuff actually comes from and exactly what it’s made of, I consulted my friend The Library.
According to, “The Food & Cooking of Eastern Europe,” Halva is made all the way from Poland to India and as actually been around since the Roman Empire, when it was made from pine nuts and honey. Halva can be found in Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Albania, and Romania and there is also a Hungarian version called “Turkish Honey.” In theses areas, it is made with ground nuts (either almonds or sesame seed) OR semolina (aka: a golden colored, high gluten flour).
THEN, I also found Halva in an Indian cookbook called, “Taste of India,” by Mary S. Atwood. In this book there were four varieties of Halva, including cashew, banana, egg and carrot (although I have watched a couple videos on youtube where it is also being made from semolina). From reading these recipes, it appears that Indian Halva is eaten both hot and cold. The hot version is almost like a candy pudding and when it is cooled, it dries out and solidifies. Most contain clarified butter, sugar, spices, water and then a root vegetable, seed or nut.
So, there’s my bit of discovery on Halva.
Perhaps that was too much information, but I got excited. I just find it fascinating how a dessert that’s internationally consumed is so unfamiliar to so many people (including myself until a month ago!) So, now we know. I may even get extra adventurous and try to make some Halva myself sometime…