International Recipes and Cooking Around the World


Plate of Persian halva

(Persian rose-scented sweet)

Average: 4.3 (11 votes)

Halva is a popular sweet found throughout the Middle East. Many varieties are made with tahini or semolina flour. This Iranian version uses a simple mixture of flour, sugar and butter with the sweet perfume of rosewater. Rosewater is available and most Middle Eastern stores and at many health food stores.

Also spelled halwa, halvah, halava, helva or halawa.

6 to 8 servings


  • Sugar -- 1 cup
  • Water -- 1/2 cup
  • Rosewater -- 1/4 cup
  • Saffron -- 3 or 4 threads
  • Unsalted butter -- 8 ounces (2 sticks, or 1 cup)
  • Flour -- 1 1/2 cups


  1. Bring the sugar and water to a boil in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir until all sugar is dissolved, and then add the rosewater and saffron. Cover, remove from heat and set aside.
  2. Heat the butter in a large saucepan over low flame. Add the flour and stir to form a smooth paste. Continue to cook, stirring often continuously, until the paste takes on a golden color, about 5 to 10 minutes.
  3. Using a whisk, slowly beat the sugar syrup into the flour paste.
  4. Remove from heat and spread the halva paste evenly onto a plate or platter. Make attractive patterns on top of the paste using the back of a spoon or with a knife. Cover and chill until fully set.
  5. Cut into wedges and serve with tea or coffee.

Rose Halva Variations

  • Substitute 1 cup of flavorless vegetable oil for the butter to make a cholesterol-free sweet.
  • Decorate the top of the halva with whole pistachios or almonds, or simply sprinkle with chopped nuts.


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