Serving the Guest: A Sufi Cookbook
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North African Holiday Halvah
Traditionally served during Ramadan as part of the iftar meal (fast breaking), and seven days after the birth of a child.
Total time: 45 minutes
6 cups flour
2-½ cups sesame seeds
3 cups blanched almonds
1-¼ cups (2-½ sticks) butter
1 tbsp. fennel or anise seeds
1 tbsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. mastic, pounded to a fine powder (optional)
½ cup honey
Powdered sugar

Brown the flour for 15-20 minutes in a dry pan over low heat. Transfer it into a bowl, clean out the pan and put in the sesame seeds. Toast them lightly, then grind them to a powder with a mortar and pestle, and add them to the flour. Clean out the pan again, melt ¼ cup of butter, and fry the almonds until golden. Remove them with a slotted spoon, reserving ¼ cup for garnish. Pound the rest into a fine powder in a mortar and pestle, or grind in the food processor. Add the ground almonds to the mixing bowl, then add the fennel or anise, cinnamon and mastic, if desired. Stir well.

Melt one cup of butter in a saucepan, then add the honey and stir well. Make a well in the center of the flour, add the butter and honey, then stir vigorously until the flour has absorbed all of the liquid. Transfer the sellou to a serving platter, piling it into a cone shape. Garnish with powdered sugar and the reserved toasted almonds. Sellou should be eaten with a spoon.