For Greek Orthodox people Easter is the most important religious holiday. Before Easter we have a 49 day period of fasting, the Lent. During the Lent people are not allowed to consume any meat or fish or eggs or dairy products. The food that is allowed during this period is vegetables, legumes, shellfish, fruits and nuts. But we need a dessert also, something sweet, nutritious and yummy to cure our sweet tooth… Here comes Sesame Halva, the official sweet of Ash Monday and the whole Lent.
Halva is made of sesame paste mixed with sugar syrup or honey or molasses from grape juice. You can find Halva in a wide range of tastes while the most popular ones are vanilla and chocolate enriched with nuts.
The word halva is Arabic in origin, which is derived from the word “halwa” which means ‘candy’ or ‘sweet’. In Greece we call it Grocer’s Halva because it was a sweet that housewives were buying from the nearby grocery store when there were plenty of them in the neighborhoods and not Super Market chains. It was something that was not prepared at home despite the fact that the ingredients are simple to be found and the recipe easy.
Halva, despite of being yummy is also very nutritious and one of the healthiest sweets one can consume. One super food indeed! Copper, manganese, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, iron, zinc, molybdenum, selenium, vitamin B1, fiber are the nutrients that it contains. It is ideal food for children and a real energy bomb.
“Open sesame”—the famous phrase from the Arabian Nights—reflects the distinguishing feature of the sesame seed pod, which bursts open when it reaches maturity.
Don’t miss the chance to taste this delicacy during our wonderful Food Tour in the non touristy area of Athens, where locals are procuring the best goods at the best prices!