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  Greek Macedonian Halva with Honey

Greek Macedonian Halva with Honey
  Greek Dessert Makedonikos Halva With Almonds

Greek Makedonian Halva Plain
Greek Makedonian Halva Plain

Greek Dessert Makedonikos Halva With Almonds

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By the time people in the palace of the ancient Mycaeneans finally developed interest in "sa-sa-ma" - writing tablets listing deliveries of supplies also give an abbreviated form of the word as "sa" - (sesame) in 1500 B.C., the sesame plant had already been in use in East Africa and India for about 500 years.  The plant had been deliberately cultivated there and the nutritious aromatic sesame seeds were highly prized.  Around 600 B.C., the Greeks discovered that sesame seeds were perfect for flavoring bread: "Seven couches and as many tablets, crowned with poppy seed, linseed and sesame seed bread, and for the girls, buckets of a sweet dessert...this a sweet mixture of honey and linseed," enthuses Athenaeus in his book Deipnosophistae ("The Banquet of the Learned" or "The Gastronomers"), providing unequivocally that not only sesame seed bread, but also tasty combinations of plant seeds and honey, for instance, were extremely popular at the time.  The list of household goods belonging to a rich Athenian whose possessions were to be auctioned included sesame seeds, alongside such mundane items as olive oil, lentils, and grain.And the poet Antiphanes from the 4th century B.C. also lists sesame seeds along with caraway marjoram, and thyme in his list of spices.

But is was to be centuries before Greece eventually produced the most delicious and healthiest sweet confectionery of all: halvas, halva. in northern Greece, halvas is served for breakfast on account of its nutritional value, as well as for dessert along with a glass of wine.  Halvas consists of 50 percent milled and toasted sesame seeds (takhini) and a warmed mixture of sugar and glucose.  It is now possible to replace the sugar content with honey or fructose so that even diabetics may enjoy halvas.  The sesame paste is mixed with sugar or honey until it forms a solid mass.  This is left to cool and harden.  Before it sets completely, the paste is put into different sized molds.  Halvas sets at 59 degree F (15 degree C).  Cocoa, peanuts, pistachios, almonds, or candied fruit, as well as oil of roses may be added to produce a variety of flavors.  Its appearance can also be varied by molding it into various shapes or coating it with chocolate.  Halvas is particularly popular with Greeks during Lent since it is thankfully not prohibited.  Because of its high content of fat, calcium, iron, phosphorus, protiens, and vitamins A and C, it is a long-lasting and nutritious source of energy and is also believed to rejuvenate the cells of the body.


excerpts from: "Culinaria Greece"

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