Friday, 4 May 2012

Romanian sunflower halva

Polish: słonecznik
Latin: Helianthus Annuus
Kurdish: gulberojk
Mongolian: аран цэцэг
Occitan: virasolelh
Ossetian: Æхсынæн
Upper Sorbian: słónčnica
Lower Sorbian: słyńca
Navajo: Ndíyíliitsoh
Azeri: adi günəbaxan

I wonder what is your sweetest culinary childhood memory. The sweetest memories of that kind should be things you rarely eat or can not eat anymore or can not find or the person who prepared you that dish is not there anymore. My childhood was full of milk puddings and differrent pancakes - you know, all the blini, oladi, yeast or soda, fried, baked or steamed cakes, sweet, sometimes fruity, mouthwatering. I also remember  well kogel-mogel and halva. Halva is and was very popular here in Poland. My theory is that it came here thanks to the tight relations with the East Poland had from medieval times, look at the ancient Polish recipes, they are full of herbs and species bought from Persia and Ottomans, look how is Poland called in Farsi and Turkish (and in Hungarian) and you'll know that the relatiosn were close. More than that, Turkish delight was manufactured in Polish houses til XIX century (we were caling it rachatłukum) and halva was popular here as well. When I say halva I think about the Arabic type, made from oleaginous seeds, not the Indian fruity one (which is by the way totally delicious and there is a plenty of creative ways to do it). Halva doesn't have to be from sesame and my childhoods almost forgotten taste is sunflower halva. It is hard to buy it today in Poland, but it is widely available in Bulgaria, Romania, Ucraine, Russia, all the eastern mate countries. I remember my Grandfather was buying me blocks of greeny oily sunflower and pumpkin seed halva and it was a special crunchy nutty delight. I know that it can also be made from poppy seed and I'll continue experimenting. Now, an original Romanian recipe for a homemade sunflower halvaHalva de floarea soarelui. Tastes heavenly and just like the old childhood memory. Ewa, remember, don't you do it too often! Not about your weight, but the taste that brings childhood memories back shouldn't be overdosen!

350 gr sunflower seeds (peeled)
100 ml water
300 gr sugar
optionally, nuts of your choice

1. Slightly toast sunflower seeds (just til they start smelling nice)

2. Process them to a paste in food processor (I used coffee grinder). Put aside, add a bit of sunflower oil if it is not oily - you should receive something similar in its consistency to tahina. Mine was a wee more dry but I found it ok. If you can, beat it a bit to make it smooth. I couldn't beat mine and didn't want to add too much oil to make it more "tahiny" so no worries.

3. Pour water and sugar into the pan, bring to boil and continue till it caramelizes (I hate termometres, but it should be about 125°C and golden colour)

4. Back to the bowl with your sunflower tahina. Gradually beat the syrup mixture into it and whisk all the time. When you reach a homogeneous paste, place it in a tin covered with baking paper. Put in the refrigerator overnight, cut while still cold and try not to devour all at once.

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