One of the things that we most loved about Turkey were the extraordinary breakfasts we had everyday: yogurt with fresh honeycomb, fresh fruit, cheese and olives, Turkish pastries, the whole works. At one such breakfast we were also introduced to the enigmatic helva, a sweet treat made with sesame seed paste. I have a lot of trouble trying to describe helva since its texture is so unusual – it’s sugary and crumbly, but with the creaminess of peanut butter. The specific variety of helva we had in Istanbul was Tahin Helvası (as in tahini), and we enjoyed varieties with chocolate swirls and pistachio. Helva or helva-like products are widespread throughout the Mediterranean and the Middle East, but it was the first time we had ever tried any other nut butter candies like this. Fortunately, we found Turkish helva in a few middle eastern grocery stores in Chicago.
Where to get your Helva Fix in Chicago:
Pita Inn Market & Bakery (Next to Pita Inn Restaurant)
Middle East Bakery and Grocery
1512 W. Foster