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.
Most types of halva are relatively dense confections that are
sweetened with sugar or honey. Their textures, however, vary. For example,
semolina-based halva is gelatinous and translucent, while sesame-based halva is
drier and more crumbly.
Flour based halva is made by frying the flour such as semolina in oil into a roux and
cooking it with a sugary syrup. This is popular in Iran, Turkey, Somalia, India,
Nut butter based 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,
Bulgaria, Russia, Greece and Cyprus, 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.
Sesame halva is popular in the Balkans, Middle East, 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, 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 nuts, cocoa powder, orange
juice, vanilla, or chocolate are 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 sesame.
Left: A Russian halva confection.