Yellow Halwa from Shiraz
Updated: Apr 4
Halwa Zard-e Shirazi
by Rouhi Sabbar
Rouhi is my mother, who was born in Hamedan, Iran. She was married off at age 13 and sent to live in Shiraz with my father's family. She left for Israel during the revolution of 1979 with the last ElAl flights from Mehrabad airport in Tehran to Tel Aviv.
For more information about her life, read my book, Wedding Song
When I was growing up and even now, family members enjoy telling me that my mother didn't know how to cook. Not too many 13-year-old girls know how to prepare a full meal. Rouhi is an amazing cook. Scrumptious dishes appear from her tiny kitchen in Holon, Israel. as if they were made with little effort.
I will add more of her recipes and memories in later posts. Here is a traditional date pudding for breaking fast on Yom Kippur or Purim in Shiraz.
2 pounds yellow dates (yellow dates are found in Iran and may be replaced with other dates)
5 C water
1 C rice
1/4 C slivered almonds
1/4 t saffron
1 T rosewater (optional)
2 T oil
Wash the rice well; cover with cold water and soak for one hour. Drain well and grind in a food processor or a coffee grinder. This rice flour shouldn’t be too fine. Put the rice flour in a hot pan with one tablespoon of oil and stir for just a few minutes until it’s aromatic.
Put the dates and water in a pot and simmer until the dates fall apart. Strain the liquid in a cheese cloth.
In a small pot, add the date liquid to rice flour, half of the saffron and a tablespoon of rose water (optional), and let it simmer. Stir constantly with a serrated wooden spoon until the the mixture is thick and smooth. Break any lumps constantly.
In a separate pan, roast the almonds with a few strands of saffron and a tablespoon of oil; stir for a few minutes until almonds are aromatic.
Pour the date mixture in a deep plate. Decorate the top with toasted slivered almonds (optional).
I prefer eating this Halwa warm, but it tastes good cold as well.