Iraqi “Halawat Tahin” dessert

This is a very traditional Iraqi dessert, literally translates to “flour dessert” and is usually done for special occasions.  But I think it can be done anytime since it doesn’t need a lot of ingredients (or utensils) just your undivided attention while you cook.  It’s on the heavy side (as you can tell from the ingredients) so eat in moderation.   Kids love it too, it has a toffee/caramel-ish flavour to it.


About 40 minutes


18+ (it varies since usually people eat small amounts)

Good for:

  • People coming for tea/afternoon- tea
  • Usually done for special occasions, funerals, weddings, Religious celebrations (Eid)
  • Not too many ingredients
  • Exotic flavour – ethnic


  • 2 cups white all purpose flour
  • 2 cups cooking oil
  • 2 cups powdered milk (I usually use “Nestle’s Nido” from ethnic groceries)
  • 4 cups sugar

      Not a must:

  • Sprinkle of Cardamom powder
  • Toasted almonds for decoration

Kitchen things you’ll need:

  • A large pot
  • A medium saucepan
  • A shallow platter to serve

Making it:

  • On the stove top, mix the sugar and water in a medium saucepan until the sugar dissolves and just as it starts to boil – you need to mix frequently until it dissolves so don’t leave it for minutes unattended.
  • In a large pot mix the flour, powdered milk and oil on medium to high heat.  You need to keep mixing until the mixture has a dark beige or light brown look to it.  The key is not to burn it (over cook) or be tempted to under cook it with a lighter colour.  This will come from experience so if you don’t get it the first time don’t fret you will the next as you get a feel for how long it takes (each stove top and pot heats up differently).
  • When it’s a light brown mixture slowly pour in the sugar/water mixture, it’ll bubble so watch out and that’s why you need the large pot, so it gives room for the mixture not to bubble over.
  • Keep mixing for about 7 minutes, the mixture should not be too thick or too thin, if too thin add more flour, if too thick add more water.
  • At this point add your cardamom powder if you wish, gives it a more exotic flavour and smell.
  • Take off of the stove top and let it cool for a minute and then pour into the platter for it to cool.  Should be a nice mahogany brown with a slightly thick consistency.
  • Decorate with almonds if you wish and enjoy.


  • Portions can be easily halved, or quartered which is useful when you’re trying it out for the first time.
  • You can add a bit of saffron with the cardamom for an additional twist.
  • This lasts a good 4 days to a week easy – but never refrigerate it, it’ll clump up, always eat, serve and store at room temperature.
  • Some people may like to eat it with some pita bread – scooping it up just like tortillas and salsa.

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