First let me do some explaining, before moving to Turkey I only knew of the tahini based halva found in the States. However in Turkey there are two types of halva, flour-based and nut-butter-based. Even though my sister is a huge tahini (nut-butter-based) halva fan, I never cared for it. However, semolina halva (flour-based), is completely different.

Semolina halva, irmik helvası in Turkish, is the most popular and original halva in Turkish cuisine. Prepared by browning large amounts of semolina (coarse durum wheat) in butter, then adding sugar and water to create a cooked paste. Typically cooked with or topped with pine nuts.

I will note this restaurant was lazy when serving, other places will “mold” the halva into a prettier presentation. My Turkish friend highly recommended Hacı Şerif in Eminönü for the best irmik helvası in Istanbul.

Note: in English halva, in Turkish helva