Funeral Halva

October 21, 2018
5 Stars
Photo by Julia Gartland
Author Notes

Halva (which means “sweetmeat” in Arabic) is a confectionary made with assorted ingredients like tahini (sesame paste) or semolina and eaten in various forms across the world, from the Middle East to the Balkans to India. It's often served at funerals. —Liana Aghajanian

Test Kitchen Notes

Featured in: How Armenian Funeral Halva Helped My Family Find Home in America. —The Editors

Watch This Recipe
Funeral Halva
  • Prep time 10 minutes
  • Cook time 40 minutes
  • Serves 8 to 10
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, melted
In This Recipe
  1. Combine sugar and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Set aside and let cool.
  2. In a large pot, add flour and cook on medium heat to toast flour. Stir occasionally. Toast for around 30-40 minutes or until the flour turns golden.
  3. Slowly add melted butter to the flour while stirring with a wooden spoon to incorporate. It should be a crumbly consistency, similar to when you cut butter into flour to make pastry dough. Turn off heat.
  4. Add sugar and water mixture to the flour and butter mixture at a slow, steady pace while continuing to mix. (It helps if you have two people doing this.) Mix until the syrup is incorporated into the flour and butter mixture—it should now be a light brown sugar color and have a flaky, not goopy, texture, like wet sand.
  5. Once incorporated, pour into your desired dish and with the back of the wooden spoon, press mixture evenly into place.
  6. Using a fork, draw designs on the top of the halva. Wait until halva has cooled to cut and distribute.

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1 Review

Peggasus October 23, 2018
What a charming, heartfelt story, I loved reading it! And now I'm really intrigued to try halva. Except for the 'two people' part, it seems easy enough! Thanks!