|Halva / Halava(Turkish:Helva)|
Balkan style tahini-based halva with pistachios
|Arabic (عربي)||(ḥalāwa) حلاوة|
|Armenian (Հայերեն)||հալվա (halva)|
|Bengali (বাংলা)||হালুয়া (halua)|
| Bulgarian and Russian|
(Български & Русский)
| Czech language|
| Cypriot Greek|
|Greek (Ελληνικά)||χαλβάς (chalvás)|
|Hebrew (עברית)||(halvah) חלבה|
|Hindi (हिंदी)||हल्वा (halvā)|
| Macedonian and Serbian|
(македонски & српски)
|Maltese (Malti)||ħelwa tat-Tork|
|Urdu (اردو)||حلوا (halvā)|
| Slovak language|
|Ukrainian (Українська)||халва (halva)|
The word halva (alternatively halwa, halvah, halava, helva, halawa, ħelwa etc.) (Tamil: அல்வா, pronounced ['ɑlvɑ:]), originally derived from the Arabic root حلوى ḥalwā (sweet), is used to describe many distinct types of sweet confection, across the Middle East, Central Asia, South Asia, and the Balkans. Halva based on semolina is popular in India, Iran, Turkey, Somalia, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. Another common type, based on tahini (sesame paste), is popular in the eastern Mediterranean and Balkan regions, in countries such as Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Romania, Serbia, Bulgaria (тах'ан халв'а), Ukraine, Russia, Greece, Cyprus, Malta, Egypt, Iraq, Palestine, Israel, Lebanon, the Republic of Macedonia, Albania, Northern Cyprus, Syria, Central Asia, Caucasus region and Turkey. Halva may also be made from a variety of other ingredients, including sunflower seeds, various nuts, beans, lentils, and vegetables—such as carrots, pumpkins, yams, and squashes.
Though semolina halva is considered to be essentially a "Northern" confection in India, it is also quite popular in South India. A prominent South Indian version of halva (or "alvaa", as it is called in Tamil) is from Tirunelveli, a city in the state of Tamil Nadu. A closely related semolina preparation widely enjoyed throughout South India is called Kesari or Kesari-bath.
In India, carrots (for gajar halwa) or mung beans (for moong dal halwa) or bottle gourds (for doodi halwa) for example, may be used instead of semolina. Prepared with condensed milk and ghee, without semolina to bind it together, the end result has a moist yet flaky texture when freshly prepared and bears some resemblance to a British pudding.
A similar pistachio-based version of Floss halva is popular in North India. It tends to be slightly denser and is often referred to as "Patisa" or Sohan papdi.
The Hebrew spelling, halvah, may at times be used to refer specifically to the Kosher variety.
The word 'halawa' (حلاوة) in Arabic means 'sweetness' while the word halwa (حلوي) means sweets or candy. The word halva comes from the Arabic word halwa; the root word is hilwa meaning sweet. The root word is also the basis for the Arabic word for "good" (helwa').Halva in Albania is usually sweet and eaten as a dessert at the end of a meal. It is made with mostly chocolate, but also with vanilla (white halva made with either vanilla or just sugar), or a mixture of half and half. Many stores all over Albania sell this popular sweet in large, fresh and in-expensive blocks. Its taste is creamy, yet melt in your mouth. The ingredients are flour, butter, sugar, and other flavorings. In Bahrain, the most popular form of halwa is Halwa Showaiter, also known as Halwa Bahraini in neighboring countries. Halva is widely used in Bosnia, and is available in different forms and flavours. Halua as it is known in Bangla, is quite popular among the Bengalis. There are many types of haluas that are savoured, among the common ones are: semolina (shoojir halua), carrot (gajorer halua), chickpeas (booter daaler halua), flour (neshestar halua) and almond (baadamer halua). Many Bangladeshis and Indian bengalis also eat halua made from papaya (peper halua). Halua is usually eaten as a rich dessert, but it is not uncommon for Bengalis to eat halua for breakfast with traditional breads (rice flour, porota/paratha etc..) In Bulgaria the term halva (халва) is used for several varieties of the dessert. Tahini halva (тахан халва) is most popular and can be found in all food stores. Two different types of tahini halva are made - one using sunflower seed tahini and another using sesame seed tahini. Traditionally, the regions of Yablanitsa and Haskovo are famous for their halva. Semolina halva (грис халва) is made at home and can be found only in some pastry stores. A third type is white halva (бяла халва), which is made of sugar. White halva is popular on the last Sunday before Lent (Sirni Zagovezni; Сирни заговезни), when a piece of white halva is tied on a string. All the children at the party stand in a circle and must catch the turning piece of halva with their mouths. Almost all types of halva in Bulgaria are flavoured with essence of Good King Henry (чувен). Halva is a sweet that is consumed in Croatia. It is not uncommon to come across the specialty in the regions of Slavonia, Kordun, Lika and Baranja or regions that at one point came in contact with the Ottoman empire. Halva is especially popular in Slavonia during "kirvaj" or local church fairs. In Egypt, the name is halawa tahiniya (حلاوة طحينية). The word 'halawa' in Arabic means 'sweetness' while the word halwa (حلوى) means sweets. It has many varieties such as plain blocks, and fine fibrous halawa called halawa hair. Other varieties with pine nuts, pistachios, and almonds exist in big blocks or pre-packed consumer portions, or more recently energy bars (chocolate bar size). Halawa is a very popular sweet enjoyed by a lot of Egyptians. It is eaten for breakfast and dinner, and enjoyed with hot bread, sandwiches, and sometimes with the Arabic equivalent of clotted cream (قشطة, pronounced ishta in Egyptian Arabic). It is a staple food that is enjoyed all over the country as it does not need special storage conditions, and can be kept in ambient temperature with no risk of spoilage.
One variation from the Caspian region of Gilan is called Asali Halva (literally honey halva). It is different from other types of halve prepared in Iran since it is based on rice flour rather than semolina, and instead of suger, it is sweetned with honey.Heavily sesame-flavoured tahini halvah (חלבה) is very popular with Israelis in Israel and among people all over the world. Spelled "chalvah" in English, it usually comes in slabs or small packages and is available in a wide variety of flavours, chocolate and vanilla being very common. The halvah is almost always parve, meaning it does not contain any meat or dairy ingredients, ensuring that it can be eaten with/after either milk or meat dishes according to the laws of Kashrut. Israeli halvah will usually not contain wheat flour or semolina but will contain sesame tahini, glucose, sugar, vanilla and saponaria root extracts (Soapwort) which are not always found in other recipes.
The term helva is used by Turkish people, to describe tahin (crushed sesame seeds), flour, or semolina halva, called "tahin helvası", "un helvası", and "irmik helvası", respectively. Yaz helvası is the one made of almond or walnut. Semolina halva (garnished with pine nuts) has a cultural significance in Turkish folk religion and is the most common type. Traditionally, halva prepared with flour un helvası is cooked and served upon the death of a person. In addition, some sweets and desserts are also called helva such as pamuk helva or Kos helva, a sweet like dessert which is widespread in Turkey. In Safranbolu kos helva is also called "leaf-halva".
There is a Greek saying Ante re halva! ("Άντε ρε χαλβά!" - could be translated as "get lost halva"), which is used when the speaker wants to offend someone, usually a man by calling him coward and/or chubby. Another saying, dating from the period of Ottoman domination, states that "Ρωμαίικος καβγάς, τούρκικος χαλβάς" (roughly translated as "A fight among Greeks is a Turk's delight").