Friday, 15 April 2016

Halva

I can't remember whether it was in Greece or Turkey that I first tasted Halva - an Arabic/Middle Eastern confection made from tahini (sesame). It tends to be eaten with a cup of coffee rather than having a biscuit, but I also recall seeing it at some hotels in Turkey served on the 'help yourself buffet table' at breakfast time. It is delicious but the flavour and texture are both difficult to describe, and although it is a confection it is not overly sweet. The Halva I like is filled with nuts - pistachio or almonds, but it comes in many different flavours.  
I had been unable to track it down in the UK, that is, until I noticed that Lidl were having a "Greek Week" and there on the shelves blocks of Halva appeared. They had three types: chocolate flavoured, Macedonian honey, and roasted almonds. I noticed that they still have some blocks left this week as I suspect that many people do not know what it is. I am just enjoying the last slice of halva with a cup of coffee, but will be watching out for it again during their next "Greek Week".
p.s By the way I am not in cohoots with Lidl 

46 comments:

  1. I grew up with Halva! I remember it in a tin with Russian letters on it and a picture of a dog 'Laika' the first Russian cosmonaut..The taste was nutty but not overly sweet and we had it sometimes for a treat after dinner. Wow. I must track some down again.

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    1. I bet that vintage Russian tin would be collectible now!
      I have only ever seen it in the fresh blocks, but if you put it in the internet you could probably track some down in Australia.
      I am pleased that this brought back so many memories for you.

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  2. I crumble it over peaches and apricots and pop it in the oven until it melts. A quick and delicious dessert.

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    1. Sounds good, that is something to remember - thank you

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  3. I don't think I ever tasted it, although I have been in Turkey and Greece.

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    1. If you visit there again then give it a try.

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  4. I remember having a recipe for halva back in the 70s, but I never tried it. It looks and sounds delicious and something I would enjoy. I do love the taste of sesame.

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    1. If you like sesame in humous then I think that you would also enjoy halva Patricia. I have thought about trying to make it so will take a look at some recipes.

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  5. I am going to look for this at the next Greek Festival. I am having my morning coffee at the moment too.....but with the time difference I feel sure your day is way ahead of me.

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    1. I suspect that you were well and truly tucked up in bed when I was having my coffee Janey - hope you come across some Halva at the Greek Festival, try it, and like it.

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  6. I like a nice piece of halva every once in a while. It's not that hard to find in Canada, at least in the specialty stores. But often I find that it can be dry and a bit stale because it doesn't sell all that quickly so tends to sit on the shelf. I don't like the chocolate kind and find that the plain style, with nuts or without, is better.

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    1. That was the good thing about getting it fresh here, not available very often but good. I had to restrain myself from buying more - little but not too often as I am sure it is rather calorific - with nuts is definitely my favourite

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  7. I came across it first when we lived near Hounslow. Somehow it reminds me of marzipan but actually it is quite different. I have not had any in years. Must make an effort to seek some out! x

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    1. If you live in the countryside then Lidls is the only place that I have come across - I am sure it can be bought in the big cities.

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  8. Sounds delicious. My favourite Mediterranean treat is Baklava which I discovered, not in Greece or Turkey, but in the depths of South East London in the 1970s. Too sweet to eat much of, but delicious. I shall have to look out for Halva now.

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    1. Yes, Baklava is very sweet, I can only cope with one small piece. Halva I am sure you would enjoy, it is not at all sweet but nutty.

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  9. I can remember eating it when we lived in Turkey, it had pistachios in it.

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    1. They make quite a lot of different flavours, but I always choose nuts.

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  10. When I was growing up there was always a large square tin of Halva in the fridge - it was sold in the tin. We'd put it on toast for breakfast or have it as a snack after school. I like the old-fashioned pistachio version and have never enjoyed the chocolate version. A first bite of Halva always takes me back to childhood.

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    1. It is not the sort of thing that you can eat too much of, but a little from time to time is lovely. I like its unique flavour and texture. I have heard of it being put on bread before, perhaps that is why it was in the breakfast room in turkey.

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  11. I was a little girl when I tasted first time halva - and I didn't like it. After that I've not eat any more.... so I don't know how it taste :)
    Nice post.

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    1. You might like it now that you are not a little girl!!! I can imagine it being a difficult taste for children in the same way that a lot of children do not like mushrooms, but change their mind when they are older.

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  12. Hello Rosemary, I love Halva. In Cleveland, all the Jewish delicatessens stocked halva, so I imagine you could also find it in their British counterparts--that is if there are any in your neck of the woods.

    Several people from Taiwan have traveled to the Mid-east on business, and brought back assortments of very delicious halva, so I have not been totally deprived. I also recall buying it a long time ago in candy-bar form.
    --Jim

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    1. Hello Jim - I did know that the Jews like their halva - you are right there are none in this neck of the woods, mostly in north London where I am sure it could be readily found.
      However, I am pleased that I have now discovered an occasional source for it here as I like it too.

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  13. I don't think I've had this but I'd like to try it. I rather like the sound of it with honey.

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    1. You could buy plain and add honey from your own bees Wendy.

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  14. I love, love, love halva. My mom is Syrian and I grew up eating it. It was one of my favorite treats. I especially love marble halva, which is a swirly combination of chocolate and plain. Yum.

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    1. It does seem to be something that many people love once they have tried it. I can remember my very first taste of it - the texture was something different and so was the flavour but I loved it too.

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  15. Now I'd like to try it! Perhaps the honey one. Is it on the dry side? I might need to dunk mine in coffee or tea :)
    Cheers

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    1. It's not dry and you could not or would not want to dunk it - it would completely disintegrate. Give it a try Loi and see what you think - if you have a sweet tooth then perhaps you would prefer the honey.

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  16. Halva was a Christmas treat in my childhood home, and in the home of my grandparents and aunts and uncles. I always thought of it as a Mennonite tradition until I learned that the Mennonites picked it up on their travels from the Ukraine to Canada via Turkey. It's in many grocery stores now. Halva and mandarin oranges were a good match.

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    1. That is a very interesting bit of history Lorrie - Halva and mandarins sounds good - someone living in Turkey has mentioned that it is lovely crumbled on peaches and apricots and then popped in the oven until it melts.

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  17. Looks interesting Rosemary. My Greek friend used to eat Haval though I have never tasted.
    It's available in some supermarkets at times.

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    1. Give it try Margaret and see, if like most of those who have commented, love it.

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  18. Sounds delicious. Is it possible to make it at home I wonder?

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    1. I should imagine that it is possible, but I don't know if it requires anything that is not readily available here. The stuff from Lidls is very good.

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  19. Hi Rosemary,

    This sounds delicious and have not tried it and the fact that it is not too sweet, will be good. I like making recipes with tahini as enjoy sesame seeds
    Enjoy your Sunday
    hugs
    Carolyn

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    1. I love tasting new foods, and when it turns out to be delicious too, then it is a bonus.

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  20. Halva, I did not know it but by your story I like to try and as we nowadays have a Lidl in our village I'm sure I will remember when they have a 'Greek week'.
    Have a nice Sunday!

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    1. Hope that you are successful in finding some to try Janneke - 99% of the blogger here who have tried it, all love it.

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  21. I have never had halva...but now I am intrigued :)

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    1. Thank you for visiting - should you come across some, then I recommend that you try it, and discover this middle eastern flavour.

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  22. I did notice it in Lidhl and wondered what it would be like! I will have to try it next time I see it. I do enjoy the different nationality week's that they hold and often pick up different things to try. The Greek wine was good too! Sarah x

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    1. Next time do give it a try Sarah - hope you enjoy the taste.

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  23. I haven’t known Halva, but it sounds worth trying according to your words. The joy when you found it during the Greek Week at Lidi would be similar to mine when I found a restaurant I could eat Falafel which I had been interested and wanted to eat.

    Yoko

    Yoko

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    1. I love Falafel and make my own - if you see some Halva then do give it a try Yoko, I think you would enjoy it.

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