Almost Turkish Recipes

Wheat Flour Halva (Un Helvası)

There are three different types of halva in Turkey: tahini halva, which is known simply as halva here in the Sates, wheat flour halva, and semolina halva. Tahini halva is usually store-bought; actually I've never heard anyone who made tahini halva. As a matter of fact, I never liked tahini halva which my family highly enjoyed as main dessert after fish dinners. Semolina and wheat flour, on the other hand, are always home-made for funerals or religious days. Moms would make big batches of either semolina or wheat flour halva and send a halva plate with kids to everyone in the neighborhood. Other than funerals and religious days, semolina or wheat flour halva is perfect for midnight sugar-craze. Between two, I've always liked wheat flour better than semolina. It's easy to make wheat flour halva, but it requires arm strength since you need to stir constantly. Here's the recipe for a small batch.

3 tbsp butter
2 tbsp canola oil
1 cup wheat flour
1 cup sugar
2 cups of water
2 tbsp pine nuts

-Start making roux with flour, butter, oil, and pine nuts on low heat. Important: Stir constantly until it turns into a brownish color. Change arms or pass the job to someone else, but stir constantly; you don't want flour balls in your halva. And don't forget; it may take a while.
-In a pot boil sugar and water.
-Once the flour mixture is brownish, pour syrup, one scoop at a time, and stir constantly until the whole syrup is soaked. It will get harder to stir. Turn it off, cover and let sit for 10 minutes.
-With two spoons give halva some sort of spoon-shape and serve!

You can experiment with this recipe by either replacing water with milk or using 1 cup water and 1 cup milk.

Adventure for chocolate and/or coco lovers: add 1 tbsp coco to roux before you pour in the syrup or serve flour halva with chocolate syrup.


  1. Tahini halva is the only kind I've ever tasted. Thank you for sharing your recipe for the wheat halva!

  2. Sure! I hope you like it.

  3. I've bookmarked it for a near future! If I make semolino halva, do I just substitute the flour with the semolino?

  4. Anonymous5:22 AM

    My grandfather (who was Greek) used to make wheat halva and I loved it as a child. He didn't put pinenuts in them but would sprinkle sugar and cinnamon on them. They would be much darker than in your photo though. I'll have to make some now and reminisce.

  5. Ilva,
    Yes, you can make semolina one with the same recipe. It's delicious, too.

    I've never heard cinnamon in wheat flour halva, but it sounds good to me. Some people use walnuts in stead of pinenuts; however, walnuts should be added after halva is cooked otherwise it would darken really fast. As to color: the longer you stir it, the darker it'll get.

  6. Ah yes, Greeks usually do it with Semolina and in particular I like it with butter...they look great!

  7. Just yesterday I made semolina halva for after lunch, with whole wheat spelt semolina, ground almonds, and ghí. tasted like marzipan. I've always thought that semolina halva was Indian...

  8. Anonymous1:17 AM

    Love Helva/Halva. Me and my wife made a good batch just today and it turned out the best we've made.

    To persevere is to get the quality one is waiting to receive and so it was with us after stirring in turn and a bit of strong arm tactics passing the wooden spoon between each other - we were 1-0 at final time.


  9. Anonymous12:36 AM

    Hello Burcu!
    every time I visited your blog I am inspired and I feel like in my grandmother kitchen.
    I love your blog recipes and some of them remember me my grandmother. She (my grandmother) was Romanian with Serbian and Bulgarian grandparents and like Andrea's grandfather put also cinnamon in the wheat halva. But I wish to try your recipe with some walnuts. Thank you for the recipe because I remember the ingredients but I can't remember the measures.

    Romanian makes halva (industrial) with sunflower seeds. But I think at home it is very difficult.


  10. Burcu, I love your website. I arrived looking for a recipe for my mother-in-law's white beans and now I have so many of your recipes bookmarked I don't even know where to start. My husband is Turkish and a great cook, so while I wait for his visa I just have to entertain myself in the kitchen. The French teacher in me has to add that the butter/flour sauce base is "roux," not "rue," from the French for "redhead" since the flour reddens (sort of) as you cook it. Can't wait to try this halva.

  11. Dear Burcu,
    Thank you for your Helva recipe. I will try making it with my daughter this afternoon. As you mentioned it is a tradition to make and serve this helva after a funeral in the home of the deceased. Neighbors, friends and family members all gather at the home to commemorate, console and say prayers together. This is done on the day of the funeral, but also repeated 7 days later, and again 40 days later.
    As the helva is being cooked, each person comes to the stove to give it a few stirs and say their own little prayer for the loved one who has passed away. The home is filled with love, gratitude and thanks to God, good wishes for each other. And of course the wonderful aroma and taste of the helva makes everyone feel better.
    My daughter and I will cook our helva and say our prayers for our dear great aunt who passed away a week ago in Turkey.
    May God except our prayers and bless all the good people in this world and in the next.

  12. I'm so happy I came across your blog. I'm a big fan of Turkish cuisine, and my mother makes helva that looks just this. We come from Serbia - and having been part of Turkey for 500 years, our cooking is heavily influenced by the Turkish cuisine, just like other Balkan countries. Many of these dishes are very familiar to me and I love them.

  13. Anonymous11:44 PM

    Hello Burcu, could you please tell me how many ml is your cup, 200ml, or smaller. Thanks,