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Sunday, May 15, 2011

The great halva/halawi quest

Halva. I have to say I wasn't always crazy about it. It doesn't look quite as appetizing as the nutty filo desserts. It definitely tastes better than it looks! The best I've had is extruded- it was so sweet and nutty and light- you just pinch it out of the container- but I'll probably have to pass on that unless I intend on buying some machinery. I could probably figure something out, though... I've got a french fry cutter and I'm sure I could find something small to force it thru... :)

And finally as of Oct 2011, I have a pic of this yummy "cotton candy" of halawi:

Trying to find a recipe has proven a bit tricky. I tend to think the real thing is probably pretty simple- ingredient-wise anyway... (there was mention of crystals as in fudge making)... but keep running into ones that contain confusing substitutions or additions:  semolina or flour (probably not the variety I'm going for) or farina/cream of wheat with or instead of tahini; honey vs simple syrup (the familiar debate); brown sugar or regular; the addition of egg whites, arrowroot, soapwort. Arrrgh!!

In my search, I have seen it described as long and tiresome or really easy, depending on the source. (???) I have read all about the root of the word, the wikipedia article, about different varieties and everything else. What I'd love about now is a good recipe. If it is truly tiresome to make, though, I guess I will have to find a good vendor... which may require some tasting. What a pity.

Some info I have looked at in my search for this elusive recipe:

Here is quite a discussion (didn't really help much, but was interesting to read):

Promising maybe (?) :

This one is with honey and is linked to EVERYWHERE (doesn't mean it's any good, though)- blogs,ehow, about, etc:

One with brown sugar and milk(??) :

Something called natef (!) --could be the answer to part of my question (how does soapwort figure in) and may be the reason for an egg white substitution, but no recipe... good stuff though...with video...

Now I'm stumped on what is authentic and what is short cut or Americanized. Some of this was originally a question put to a recipe group, but it figures why not stick it here, too.If anyone's got ideas or recipes, please comment.


  1. I found some links relating to the use of Lecithin as an emulsifier in halva. Reference is made to soap root extract also.

    pdf on soap root

  2. A partial recipe for halva using soapwort on pages 215 and 216.

  3. Precise recipe for natef.