Halva (حلوا) is velvety smooth, deep chocolaty brown, fragrant, extremely sweet with well balanced flavours. It is not a dessert and it almost always associates with bereavement. To love halva is an acquired taste as the intense sweetness of halva is not suitable for a delicate palate. Halva exists for probably hundreds of years and every generation puts their own spin on it. Halva is prepared with ordinary ingredients and most Persians are able to make it, however the task of making a perfect batch of halva for special occasions is reserved for a selected few who are highly skilled halva makers.
As a child, Halva was always a dark sweet concoction rolled in lavash but it never appealed to me. A few years ago, I made a challenge for myself to learn how to make a good halva and I am glad I did. Patience is the most important unwritten ingredient and the second equally important ingredient is expertise. The kind of know-how expertise you need to have is to be able to feel the flour with all of your senses. If you cook for the love of cooking and not for the love of eating you'll instantly know what I am referring to. A few batches later, I got to know the trick is in proper roasting of the flour and frying it.
Here is a recipe that you can use as a guide:
Take 2 cups of standard flour and place it in a large fry pan (most fry pans are suitable, only avoid heavy copper based ones). Turn the heat on low and stir. Remember flour burns quickly so keep stirring until the flour turns into chickpea colour and taste it. If it tastes burnt, you have to start over. This process will take at least 20 minutes.
Add the sugar syrup slowly to the flour mix and mix with a large wooden spoon and smooth out the lumps with the back of the spoon. If the halva is too dry for your liking, add a little boiling water.
Flour 1 Cup
Sugar 1/2 Cup
Butter 1/2 Cup
Water 1 Cup