BBC HomeExplore the BBC
This page has been archived and is no longer updated. Find out more about page archiving.

Accessibility help
Text only
BBC Homepage
BBC Radio
Woman's Hour - Weekdays 10-11am, Saturdays 4-5pm
Listen online to Radio 4

Contact Us

Like this page?
Send it to a friend!

Arabic deserts: Helva 16 May 2006
If you've ever had the good fortune to come across the sweetmeat helva or 'halva' then you probably associate it with a sweet sesame based paste pressed into a solid cake and maybe decorated with almonds or pistachios. But in the Middle East, Central Asia and India, 'helva' could and does mean all sorts of things. It's always a sweetmeat but some people make it with cooked carrots, others with semolina, potatoes, beetroot or yams. And you can get fruit helvas made with papayas oranges or bananas too.

Food historian and cookery writer Anissa Helou shows Anna McNamee how to make one of her favourite versions.
Mediterranean Street Food, published by Harper Collins - ISBN: 0-06-019596-7 
Lebanese Cuisine, published by Grub Street - ISBN: 1898697639 
Cafe Morocco, published by Conran Octopus - ISBN 1 85029 958 7 
The Fifth Quarter: An Offal Cookbook ISBN 1904573215

Recipe for Turkish Flour Helva 
150 g unsalted butter
50 g pine nuts
150 g plain flour
225 g golden caster sugar

  • Melt the butter in a heavy pan. Add the pine nuts and flour and stir over low heat until golden. This may take as long as 45 minutes but it must be done in order to get a nutty taste and a good helva.
  • Ten minutes before the flour is ready, put the sugar and 400 ml water in a saucepan and place over medium-high heat. Bring to the boil. Let bubble for a couple of minutes then pour over the flour, stirring quickly. Continue stirring until the mixture starts sticking to the pan. Remove from the heat and let sit, covered, for 15 minutes. Transfer to a serving dish and serve warm.
(serves 6)

From Nevin Halici's Turkish Cookbook (out of print) Publisher: Dorling Kindersley; (October 1989) ASIN: 0863183905
Recent items about Food + Cooking
24 March 2010: Cooking on a budget
More items in the Food + Cooking Archive
Listen now to the latest Woman's Hour
Listen Now
Latest programme
Listen again to previous programmes
Listen Again
Previous programmes

Retired? Downsizing? Moving home to be nearer the kids?

We'd like to hear your stories about moving house

Image: Find out how more about the Woman's Hour podcast
More about Woman's Hour podcasts

About the BBC | Help | Terms of Use | Privacy & Cookies Policy