Holiday Halvah

Wheat Halvah

Among Persian Jews, halvah is the traditional Purim food. Here are two recipes, one using flour, one rice.

Fariba Sameyach, a preschool teacher at Harkham Hillel Hebrew Academy, shared this recipe, along with a delicious sample of halvah, a sweet and perfumy Persian Purim delicacy.

As with all traditional recipes, it’s hard to nail down exact ingredients that are usually measured by taste and eye. Watching an experienced halvah-maker is also the best way to get the technique down, so that the flour is browned to just the right color and the batter is just the right consistency.

1 1/2 cups flour, 1/4 cup oil, 1 1/2 cups boiling water,

3/4 cup sugar, 1/2 tsp ground cardamom

1/2 tsp ground saffron, 1/4 cup rose water

In a nonstick pot on medium heat, roast the flour until light brown. Stir constantly to avoid burning. Remove from heat and sift the flour in a separate bowl.

Pour the oil into the same pot, still on medium heat. Add the sifted, browned flour and keep stirring. Add the boiling water, sugar, cardamom and saffron, and keep stirring until the flour absorbs all the liquid. Add the rose water and keep stirring for another five minutes. While hot, spread the halvah on a flat dish. With the back of a spoon or your hands, flatten the halvah on your dish. When cool, cut into diamonds or squares. Nooshe Jan. — Julie Gruenbaum Fax

Rice Halvah

6 cups white rice, 6 cups water, 1 cup vegetable oil, 1/2 cup rose water, 2 tbs. crushed cardamom, 3 cups sugar, 2 tbs. ground saffron


1/2 cup fresh almonds, small amount of butter, 1 tsp sugar, 1 tsp. saffron

Soak the rice overnight in cold water until the grains soften.

In the morning, drain the water, then crush the rice into a fine paste. Stir-fry the rice in a pan without oil until the paste turns golden. Add the cup of oil, then fry the rice until it’s light brown.

Add six cups water, sugar, cardamom, rose water and saffron. Cook over a slow fire, stirring constantly, until the rice takes on a pasty consistency.

Pour the paste into a serving dish and leave at room temperature to cool. It will harden into a jello-like consistency.

Peel the almonds, slice them into strips and stir-fry with the butter, sugar and saffron. Use as garnish to decorate the halvah.