Carrot Halva with Rice Flour
Most often we associate baking with celebrations like birthdays, weddings, engagement parties...etc. But in Iran, we have certain desserts and sweets that are baked only for funerals or for honoring the deceased. I guess it's true for most cultures, but the traditions Iranian observe when someone passes are deeply rooted in our culture and hold significant meaning.
When growing up, every Thursday afternoon my mom used to make different types of Halva to honor my grandmother's soul. During the baking process, she would pray for her soul and ask god for forgiveness.
Halva is a favorite dessert throughout the Middle East. Many varieties are made with tahini, wheat flour, rice flour, or chickpea flour. My favorite halva was carrot halva that uses a simple mixture of rice flour, butter, carrots, saffron and sugar with the sweet perfume of rosewater.
When making Halva I always toast the flour first, you might ask why? And the answer is flavor. when you toast the flour, you cook out the raw taste and results is a nutty and more complex flavor in your halva. Toasting the flour adds an extra layer of flavor with very little effort. It's important that the flour doesn't change color, the longer you cook the flour, the darker it gets.
Serving size: 3 small 6" plates Cook time: 30 minutes
- 50g rice flour
- 30g butter
- 300g carrots, cooked & grated
- 1 cup rosewater syrup: bring to a boil 1 cup of sugar mixed with 1 cup of water until it reach 210°F, add 1/4 cup rosewater and let it boil for another 2 minutes, now the syrup is ready.
- 1 teaspoons brewed saffron
- 30g ground pistachios
- Dried rose petals
- Dried malva flowers
In a medium size frying pan and on medium heat start by toasting the rice flour, stirring constantly, cook for about six minutes. Add butter and continue stirring for about a minute or so, until the flour is completely moist.
Add saffron and grated cooked carrots, mix together with the flour mix until you have a smooth paste. Now add 1 cup of syrup, use a whisk to incorporate the flour and carrot mix with the syrup. At first seems difficult, but keep stirring and soon it will all come together. This is the hard part about making Halva that you have to keep stirring until Halva stops sticking to the side of frying pan, then Halva is ready.
While the Halva is still hot, dish it in your favorite plates, ensuring that the Halva is about an inch thick, use the back of a spoon to flatten the surface and decorate with ground pistachios, rose petals, and malva flowers, or whatever you like.
Let Halva cool in the fridge, cut in diamond shapes and serve.