Sharing Sweet Customs

SOTIAdmin Healing

Food brings people together and sweets are a delight to people all over the world. Different cultures have their own versions of how to make and serve desserts. At SURVIVORS, the staff, volunteers, and clients are always excited when someone brings in a new treat to try.

This week a client from Somalia brought in some halwa for everyone to try. He wanted to share a piece of his home country with SURVIVORS. Halwa is a popular Somali dessert made from cornstarch, sugar, oil and ground cardamom. Halwa is typically eaten with biscuits (see the picture below, the Halwa is the dark brown, jelly-like, cube in the background) or coffee.

Everyone loved it! A client from the Middle East took a bite and a huge smile stretched across his face. “This is delicious,” he gushed as he took another bite.

Halwa is a delicious Somali dessert

Cassie, SURVIVORS’ clinical case manager, shared a recipe with the staff – here it is, originally from We’d love to see your photos, if you make some.

Somali Halwa


  • 4 cups of water
  • 2 cups/1 lb granulated sugar
  • 2 cups/1 lb light brown sugar
  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • 1 cup ghee/oil
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 teaspoon of ground cardamom
  • Pinch saffron powder


  • Bring the sugar and the water to boil.
  • Mix cornstarch, saffron and half of cup water, allow it to dissolve.
  • Add the cornstarch to the mixture.
  • Cook the mixture over medium heat while stirring.
  • As the mixture turns thick, start adding oil. This might take about 30 minutes.
  • Continue adding oil when it sticks to the bottom of the pan.
  • Keep stirring until the mixture gets separated.
  • When it starts to leave the sides of the pan add cardamom and cloves.
  • Put the halwa on a baking sheet.
  • Let it cool.
  • Cut and serve