Helva is one of the oldest Turkish sweet and has a very thorough past. It is considered Balkan and East Mediterranean originated and arrived Anatolia before Turks. Today helva is still a very popular sweet in Turkey, and whatever their religion is, all Turks serve helva on special occasions such as Ramazan, Kandil and other holly days, but especially to mark births and deaths.


There are several versions of helva. The most common version cooked at home is İrmik Helvası (Semolina Helva), a loose granular pudding made with semolina into which is stirred sweet hot milk and seasoned with pine nuts while another kind is Un Helvası which is made by slowly browning flour in butter and adding a sugar syrup and pine nuts and then shaping it into balls.


Tahin Helvası (crushed sesame seeds) is another kind of helva produced in plants and sold in blocks by weight and comes plain, flavored with chocolate or stunned with pistachio or almonds. Diabetic kinds of tahin helvası are also available. The most famous helva manufacturer is Koska Helvacısı and almost all supermarkets sell Koska products.


In the manufacture process of tahin helvası first of all one sifts, washes, dries and grinds the raw sesame seeds and that is tahin. Another herb çöven (root of soapwort) is mashed and mixed with sugar. Çöven gives whiteness to helva. Tahin, çöven and sugar are cooked by stirring in large cauldrons. Then various flavors such as nuts, pistachio, almond, and cacao are added and pour into moulds in which they are cooled.


Sometimes you meet round pastry wafers sold in transparent polyester bags at pastries, dried fruit shops or street peddlers. These are called Kağıt Helva (literally "Paper Helva"). The layers of Kağıt Helva are full of sweetmeat and it is a favorite taste among children.


We suggest you try İrmik Helvası and Un Helvası at home. You won't regret!