Halva originated in Persia (part of modern-day Iran) in around the 7th Century BC. It was originally made by mashing dates into milk, and derivations of it always involve making a sweetened paste of some sort. These days, halva tends to be made by mixing honey with semolina or cornflour, adding flavourings and letting it set. Due to the choice of ingredients, halva can be kept for days without spoiling. Halva is exactly the same thing as Turkish delight, which is most often made with rosewater.
A fruit version of halva has become very popular on YouTube where cooks have touted it as a “simple, three-ingredient dessert” without recognising that they are actually making a halva. Here, we make an orange halva (حلاوة طحينية برتقالية).
- 10–12 medium oranges squeezed to yield 600ml juice
- 2–3 tbsp of honey to taste
- 65g (1 USA cup) cornflour
Add the honey to the orange juice and adjust to taste.
Mix the cornflour into the sweetened orange juice, heat over a medium flame and stir until thickened.
For the mixture into a shallow dish, cover and refrigerate for 3 hours.
To finish, you can turn this out onto a board or cut it from the dish. Decorate with dessicatedd coconut, glaze cherries and mint leaves.