Halva also halvah , halwa , [1] [2] and other spellings are dense, sweet confections originating in the Middle East. Halva may also be based on various other ingredients, including beans , lentils , and vegetables such as carrots, pumpkins, yams and squashes. Identical sweets exist in other countries, such as China , though these are not generally referred to as "halva". Halva can be kept at room temperature during non-summer months with little risk of spoilage. A reference to halvah appeared in the 7th century, referring to a mixture of mashed dates with milk. By the 9th century, the term was applied to numerous kinds of sweets, including the now-familiar sweetened cooked semolina or flour paste. Many of the earlier Persian recipes were documented in the 13th century Arabic book Kitab al-Tabikh The Book of Dishes , as well as an anonymous cookbook from 13th-century Moorish Spain. Halva was adopted and expanded by the Ottoman Turks , including a sesame-based version, and spread throughout their empire. Most types of halva are relatively dense confections 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 flour such as semolina in oil, mixing it into a roux , and then cooking it with a sugary syrup. This variety of halva is usually made with wheat semolina , [10] sugar [11] or honey, and butter or vegetable oil. Raisins , dates , other dried fruits , or nuts such as almonds or walnuts are often added to semolina halva. The halva is very sweet, with a gelatinous texture similar to polenta ; the added butter gives it a rich mouthfeel. In India, halva recipes use flour, melted butter or ghee , sugar and optionally acacia gum gum arabic. It comes in various colors like orange, brown, green and white; in a translucent appearance studded with raisins, cashew nuts, pistachios, almonds, etc. Technically- the term halva is used in native recipes throughout India. Another semolina preparation widely enjoyed throughout South India called kesari or kesari-bath originates from the state of Karnataka. Alternative vegetable-based halva recipes popular in India and Pakistan use beetroots, potatoes, yams, and most commonly carrots for gajar halwa , mung beans for moong dal halwa , or bottle gourds for doodi halwa 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. Cornstarch -gelatinous halva is popular in Greece and has many variations. This rice flour and coconut milk halva is common fare on the streets of Zanzibar. A dairy-based rice flour halva, known as Pathein halawa , is considered a Burmese delicacy native to Pathein. This type of halva is made by grinding oily seeds, such as sesame or sunflower seeds, to a paste, and then mixing with hot sugar syrup cooked to hard-crack stage. The primary ingredients in this confection are sesame butter or paste tahini , and sugar, glucose or honey. Other ingredients and flavorings, such as pistachio nuts, cocoa powder , orange juice , vanilla , or chocolate are often added to the basic tahini and sugar base. Sunflower halva is popular in the countries of the former Soviet Union , but also in Bulgaria , Romania , Serbia , and other Balkan countries. It may include other ingredients, such as nuts, cocoa powder, or vanilla. 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 halal or kosher certifications. A similar pistachio-based version of floss halva is popular in North India.

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