Este blog es el instrumento de comunicación para todos los participantes en el Programa de Aprendizaje Permanente (P.A.P.) Comenius. Se trata de una asociación multilateral entre tres países: Turquía, Grecia y España. Nuestros centros educativos van a trabajar temas relacionados con la historia, las tradiciones, la religión, el ciclo festivo, etc. Y nuestro principal objetivo es estrechar los lazos que unen a estas tres culturas mediterráneas.

This blog is a communication tool for every participant in the Comenius Lifelong Learning Programme (L.L.P.). It is a multilateral association of schools in these three countries: Turkey, Greece and Spain. We are going to deal with subjects such as History, Traditions, Religion, The Festive Cycle, etc. And our main objective is to approach the similarities which these three Mediterranean cultures have.

sábado, 12 de abril de 2008

Halva: una delicia culinaria con historia / Halva: a sweet with ceremonial significance

Los turcos también tienen estupendas recetas que nos envían para compartir con nosotros. Nos envían una trabajo en inglés al que podéis acceder al final de este texto. Nos hablan del halva (helva en turco). Es un tipo de pastel de tradición oriental hecho con una masa que se obtiene de moler semillas de sésamo tostadas hasta conseguir una pasta muy fina llamada “tahin” que se mezcla con agua o leche y azúcar granulada. El pastel que resulta es de alto valor calórico, muy dulce y a la vez ligeramente amargo.

También nos indican que igual que sucede con nuestras “monas” hay distintas variedades del producto. Se puede encontrar el halva hueco, con crema montada o con fruta caramelizada.

El nombre de este postre se puede encontrar también en hebreo, sánscrito, hindú y árabe lo que da idea de que su origen es muy antiguo y que estaría situado entre el este de Europa y Oriente Medio. En realidad la palabra halva procede del árabe hulw que significa “dulce”. En el siglo VII existía un pastel llamado así, hulw, a base de dátil molido con leche. Siglos después, y tras ser modificado por varias culturas el término pasó a referirse a una pasta de sémola de trigo tostada con miel o azúcar y jarabe de dátil o uva. Desde entonces ha evolucionado a una multitud de formas, ingredientes y métodos variados.
La palabra actual se deriva de halvais, nombre de la casta o gremio de pasteleros procedentes de la India que lo cocían en unas cocinas llamadas “helvahane” en el Imperio Otomano. Estos “helvahane” eran como ahora un obrador moderno de una confitería actual donde se hacen multitud de masas, cremas, confites, etc, como por ejemplo los peltes, dulces hechos con zumo de frutas, almidón, y azúcar originarios de los paludes que se hacían antiguamente en las “helvahane”.

Halva: a sweet with ceremonial significance

In restaurants and home kitchens, it is common to find both flour halva and semolina-based (irmik helvası) halva, made with water or milk and sweetened with granulated sugar.
The Larousse Gastronomique states that "halva or halvah" is "an Eastern sweetmeat based on roasted sesame seeds, which are ground into a smooth paste (tahin) and then mixed with boiled sugar.
It has a high fat content and, although very sweet, a slightly bitter taste. Other types of halva can be aerated and whipped and cream or crystallized (candied) fruit may be added." Many people's perception of halva (or "helva," as it is known in Turkey) would fit in well with the Larousse definition and, while not technically wrong, by dismissing halva so easily they are missing out on some of the best tasting and simplest sweets and desserts available.
Halva is spelt in as many ways as there are varieties of the sweet: halva for English speakers, halava in Sanskrit, halvah for Hebrew, halwa in Hindi or Arabic and then more. The true origins of halva reflect this collection of languages, all centered around countries east of Europe and, while many cultures lay claim to inventing the delicious food, historians believe that it is an ancient confection originating in the Middle East. In fact, the name halva comes from the Arabic word hulw, which means sweet. In the seventh century hulw consisted of a paste of dates kneaded with milk. In the following centuries, as its popularity spread with the conquering and assimilation of cultures, the term referred to toasted flour or semolina mixed with honey or a sugar, date or grape syrup and made into a paste over a medium heat. Since then it has evolved into a multitude of things, incorporating an assortment of ingredients and cooking methods.
The word and the popularity of the sweet concoctions lead to the name of halvais, the confectioner's caste in India and to the helvacı, or sweet makers, in the kitchens of the Ottoman Empire. The helvahane was the kitchen where halvas were made. The helvahane could be likened to the pastry section in a modern-day professional kitchen. In the pastry section you will find chefs preparing and cooking all manner of sweet temptations, not just pastries, and yet this is how it is identified. So, too, was the helvahane responsible for the preparation of a vast array of foods and beverages, including preserved fruits, jams and sherbets, as well as pickled vegetables. The present-day peltes, sweets made from fruit juice, starch and sugar, originate from the paludes made in the helvahane.
From as early as the 15th and 16th centuries, aşure, baklava, kadayıf, muhallebi, zerde and halva were enjoyed by those eating from the palace kitchens.

"The helvahane acted as pharmacy to the palace, with medicines of the time carefully prepared under the supervision of the helvacı başı," he explains, adding that all manner of common ailments, including impotency, were treated with remedies from the kitchens. The belief in the link between food and health is perhaps born out by the fact that one of the first Turkish-language cookbooks was translated from Arabic by Muhammed bin Mahmud Şirvani (1375-1450), who was a physician to Sultan Murat II (1421-1451).
Despite these varied responsibilities, the kitchen, chefs and an incredible number of sweetmeats and desserts were identified by derivatives of the name "helva." The palace kitchen records show that during the circumcision feast of Sultan Süleyman's (1494-1566) sons in 1539, 15 different types of halva were served. While the whole populace would be invited to celebrate the occasion, halva was more than likely only served to people of significant standing within the empire or to those the sultan was eager to impress. Halvas were a common and seemingly compulsory item on the menus for festivals, weddings and circumcisions.
Since the earliest days of halva, it has held ceremonial significance. Various rituals are associated with the making of halva. Most commonly nowadays, halva is made in commemoration of a person's death and shared among friends, relatives and neighbors. While stirring the semolina or flour, prayers are said quietly for the deceased person. In accordance with the tradition of remembrance on the seventh and 40th days after a death and on every death anniversary, halva is again made and shared. Halva is also made and shared for births and religious holidays. It may be made to celebrate the birthday of Prophet Mohammed (Mevlid Kandili) or on other occasions during the Islamic calendar year.
The halvas of the Ottoman era were made with flour or wheat starch. Recipes recorded in the 15th century include exotic halvas of butter, flour, saffron, honey, poppy seeds, pistachio and rosewater. Honey featured regularly as a sweetener. These days the most common halva found in restaurants is semolina-based (irmik helvası), made with water or milk and sweetened with granulated sugar. In home kitchens, it is common to find both semolina and flour halvas. Semolina halva usually has a granular texture, while that made with flour is more solid and can be rolled into balls. As with the early days, the variations are numerous and most cooks will distinguish themselves with a slightly different ingredient, method or presentation. Halva made with tahini is most commonly bought from shops and is not referred to frequently in historical texts. The crushed sesame seeds are formed into blocks and sold by weight. Tahin helvası can be found with pistachios, almonds or walnuts. It can be flavored with chocolate or caramel or can be served plain. Its texture is firm and can be a little chalky or fudgy. Another type of halva found today is kağıt helvası, which literally translates to paper halva, but is better described as a wafer. It is sold in sweets shops and by street vendors. These vendors often weave their way through backed-up traffic with their plastic wrapped, plate-sized goods stacked high. Kağıt helvası can be eaten plain, straight from the packet or with a scoop of ice cream.
Where to try halva in İstanbul?
It is difficult to find flour halva in any restaurant, so if you are not prepared to make it yourself, ask your best Turkish friend or their mother to make it for you. Some specialist delicatessens do sell flour halva and it is generally presented in almost fist-shaped mounds. Semolina halva is easier to find, be it made with water, milk, pine nuts or almonds. It has become a culinary custom of Turkey to follow a meal of köfte with sütlü irmik helvası (semolina halva made with milk). The halvas based on tahini and sesame seeds can be found in any number of shops that sell confectionary.
Semolina halva with milk and almonds
Semolina halva is often prepared with pine nuts; however in the earliest days of the nomadic Ottoman kitchens, halva was made with flour, sugar, butter, milk and almonds.
Ingredients: 250g semolina, 250g granulated sugar, 100g butter, 450ml full-fat milk, 50g almonds, chopped or slivered Method: 1- Melt butter in large frying pan.2- Add semolina and almonds and toast over medium heat, stirring constantly (approximately 10-15 minutes) until both semolina and almonds are well browned. 3- Place milk and sugar in a pan and bring to a boil, ensuring all sugar has dissolved.4- Over a very low heat, slowly add milk syrup to semolina and stir thoroughly. 5- Cook until the mixture is thick, then cover and continue to cook over medium heat for five minutes. 6 - Turn heat off and leave covered for 10 minutes. 7- Gently stir the halva with a fork to separate the grains of semolina and serve warm.

Dessert dictionary
Aşure: a dessert of fruit, grain (specially labeled for aşure) and legumes. Prepared during the first 10 days of the month of Muharram in the Islamic calendar. Baklava: layers and layers of pastry (at least 40, if you are any kind of expert), most often with nuts and syrup. Kadayıf: a shredded-type pastry treated in many ways, but always laced in syrup and often accompanied by kaymak (very thick cream). Muhallebi: classic milk pudding from which a range of other rice flour and milk-based puddings have evolved. Zerde: a gelatinous dessert set with rice and, historically, wheat starch, flavored with saffron and eaten especially at celebrations.

2 comentarios:

Anónimo dijo...

¡Humm! ¡qué buena pinta tiene este pastel! a ver quién se anima a preprarlo y traerlo al instituto para que podamos degustarlo y acercarnos así de paso a la cultura turca...

Pablo dijo...

Hola. Yo soy de Argentina, aquí se fabrica en forma industrial una clase de halva que inventó un inmigrante griego llamado Georgalos de apellido. En lugar del tahini de sésamo se utiliza pasta de maní. El maní es un producto americano y se nota que el inmigante Georgalos no tuvo mejor idea que producir este producto con los materiales que tenía a mano. Aquí es un producto muy común y muy accesible que se encuentra en cualquier comercio de golosinas. La receta de Georgalos es un secreto, pero sospecho que además de maní y cacao la receta contiene caramelo porque su consistencia es muy crocante, como de cristales de azúcar y es delicioso.