Citizens, today I wish to share a rich, sweet and delicious dessert from Bangladesh with you! 😀
Halva (or Halwa) is any of various dense, sweet confections served across the Middle East, South Asia, Central Asia, West Asia, the Caucasus, North Africa, the Horn of Africa, the Balkans, Central Europe, Eastern Europe, Malta and the Jewish diaspora. Identical sweets exist in other countries, such as China, though these are not generally referred to as “halva”.
In global, popular usage it means “desserts” or “sweet”, and describes two types of desserts:
This type of halva is slightly gelatinous and made from grain flour, typically semolina (suji- India). The primary ingredients are clarified butter (ghee), flour, and sugar.
This type of halva is crumbly and usually made from tahini (sesame paste) or other nut butters, such as sunflower seed butter. The primary ingredients are nut butter and sugar.
Halva may also be based on various other ingredients, including beans, lentils, and vegetables such as carrots, pumpkins, yams and squashes.
Halva can be kept at room temperature with little risk of spoilage. However, during hot summer months, it is better kept refrigerated, as it can turn runny after several days.
The Semolina (suji) variety of halva is produced and served in India, Afghanistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and surrounding countries (different versions of it are also found in Albania, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece, Montenegro, Macedonia and Turkey). It is usually made with wheat semolina, sugar 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. The standard proportions of semolina halva are: one part fat (a vegetable oil or butter), two parts semolina, two parts sweetening agent (e.g. sugar or honey), and four parts water. The semolina is sautéed in the fat, while a syrup is made from the sweetener and water. Then the two are mixed carefully while hot, and any extra ingredients are added. At this point, the halva is off-white to light beige, and rather soft. Depending on recipe and taste, it can be cooked a bit further, which makes it darker and firmer, or left to set as is.
Citizens, my version includes my preferred spicing and adds an optional touch of edible camphor, which is typically only added to halwa offered up to the Gods for religious purposes in India. I like the menthol effect it adds to the final dish, though it is not traditional in Bangladeshi halwa – feel free to leave it out. You can buy it here.
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