Pumpkin Halvah (Assidat al-Boubar)

  • Serves

    serves 8-10


Like many traditional Emirati desserts, this luscious pumpkin porridge (in Arabic it's a halvah, or sweet food) straddles the line between sweet and savory. The dish thickens as it cools, so be sure to serve it while it's still quite warm. This recipe first appeared in SAVEUR Issue #140 along with Anissa Helou's story Breaking the Fast.


  • 2 lb. peeled and seeded kabocha or acorn squash, cubed
  • 3 12 cups milk
  • 34 cup sugar
  • 12 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 12 cup almond flour
  • 10 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp. rose water
  • 12 tsp. ground cardamom
  • 12 tsp. kosher salt
  • 2 cups powdered milk
  • 1 cup almonds, roughly chopped
  • 12 cup raisins
  • 12 cup golden raisins
  • 2 tbsp. ghee or clarified butter


Step 1

Working in 2 batches, place squash and milk in a blender and puree until smooth; transfer to a 6-qt. Dutch oven over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Cook, stirring often, for 15 minutes; reduce heat to medium, and cook, stirring often, until reduced and thickened to the consistency of loose peanut butter, about 1 hour. Add both sugars, almond flour, butter, rose water, cardamom, and salt, and cook, stirring often, until smooth, about 5 minutes more.

Step 2

Remove pot from heat and stir in powdered milk; using a handheld blender or a food processor, puree halvah mixture until no lumps remain. Stir in 3⁄4 cup chopped almonds and 6 tbsp. each raisins and golden raisins. Transfer halvah to a serving platter or bowl and sprinkle remaining almonds and raisins over top; drizzle with ghee and serve immediately.

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