Sesame seed white halva
Cakes, pastries and sweets - North Macedonia
The Strumica region of eastern Macedonia is know for the cultivation of sesame. In recent years, a gene bank has collected ten local varieties originating from the village. Today, the crop is less widely cultivated in the area, and mainly grown by family farmers for personal use. White halva is a sweet prepared in the area with local sesame seeds. A typical batch consists of 20 kg of sugar dissolved in 3-5 liters of water. This mixture is heated until it thickens and takes on a reddish color, usually for about 30 minutes. A piece of cuen tree root is boiled, and 500 ml of this infused liquid is then added to the sugar mixture. The syrup should be boiled over a low flame for another two hours and then cooled for 15-20 minutes before being poured out into strips that are then coated in the sesame seeds. These sugary, seeded strips are then bent in the last step of the production. This recipe is over 100 years old and was traditionally prepared only by people of the Roma nationality. Roma men today carry the tradition of the recipe and production method. White halva is not found outside of the Strumica region. It can be found for sale in Strumica, and is a typical product for Christmas Eve. Because fewer people grow sesame crops in the area, the production of white halva has decreased, and there is only one active commercial producer today.