Iranian Halva

Where there is love, nothing is too much trouble and there is always time.” – Abdul-Baha

Persian cooking is a labor of love, and my grandmother was the epitome of selflessness and love. She enjoyed cooking for her family, and she regularly made Iranian Halva. Only later, when I made Iranian Halva myself, did I realize what arm strength it requires! It requires mixing constantly and quickly flour in oil for up to 20-30 minutes until the correct color and consistency are reached.

Halva (also spelled Halvah) is a confectioner sweet found in many variations in different cultures. The Israeli Halvah is tahini- based and often served as a snack or for breakfast. Iranian Halva is a dessert of fried flour and rose water syrup. It is often served for funerals, memorials, and other ceremonial events. I remember my grandmother making it regularly for family or Baha’i gatherings.

It is still one of my favorite desserts, and my kids love it too. Halva is traditionally vegan, made with oil instead of butter. This recipe is fairly simple, but requires careful and quick mixing to prevent the flour from burning. Get ready for a great arm workout, or better yet, find a sous chef to help in the kitchen.

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Vegan, Iranian, Plant-based, Halva Saffron Brownie, dairy-free

Iranian Halva

  • Author: Plant-Based Persian
  • Total Time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: 4-6 1x
  • Diet: Vegan


A fried flour, rosewater infused dessert. 


Units Scale
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup rosewater
  • 1/2 tsp ground saffron
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1 cup oil
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour


  1. Prepare the rosewater syrup. First, add the water and the sugar to a medium pot on medium/high heat. 
  2. Add the rosewater, ground saffron, and ground cardamom.
  3. Bring to a simmer and stir continuously until sugar is dissolved. 
  4. Set aside. If needed, put through a sieve to remove larger saffron threads. 
  5. Add oil to a large pan on medium/high heat.
  6. Once the oil is hot, add the flour and mix continuously until the flour has thickened and changed color. 
  7. Once the flour has darkened, add the rosewater syrup. Stir quickly and continuously until the syrup is fully absorbed.  
  8. Place the Halva on a plate, and let cool for 10 minutes. Use cookie cutters, if desired, to make individual servings.
  9. Garnish with crushed pistachios. 
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Category: Dessert
  • Cuisine: Persian/Iranian

Keywords: Vegan, Dessert, Plant-based, Halva