Winter Vacation in Marrakech

This past winter break, my husband planned an amazing vacation for our family to experience the Christmas markets in Europe! On our itinerary, he also included 5 days in Marrakech, Morocco, to provide a break from the freezing temperatures in Europe. He was absolutely right – we really needed that break! It turned out to be a refreshing change of pace, not only in terms of the weather but also in terms of food and culture – all the things we consider when planning our vacations. After returning home, I used inspirations from my travel and crafted a brand new dessert for Sankranti. Introducing my creamy, decadent Indian-Flavored Lebanese Halwa Crème!

Indian-Flavored Lebanese Halwa Crème 

Inspiration from Marrakech

The bright and colorful riads, the hustle and bustle of the medina, and the prominence of two cuisines in Marrakesh – Middle Eastern (Arabic, Lebanese, etc.) and Berber (ever heard of the classic tagine?!) – were simply refreshing after indulging in rich holiday fare in freezing European cities. Inspired by the Halwa Crème dessert I had at one of the Lebanese restaurants in Marrakech, Naranj, I created this Indian-flavored Halwa Crème. It’s infused with the classic flavors of Til Gul (translated as sesame – jaggery) that is a must, for the very first Indian festival of the year, Makar Sankranti!

Indian-Flavored Lebanese Halwa Crème 

Love at First Bite! 

I fell in love with the dessert at the first bite! The luscious cream, the hint of sesame seeds, the crunch of pistachios, was simply divine! It came along with the delightful fragrance of the dried Moroccan rosebud that was used as a garnish, in addition to the dusting on the plate.  

Halwa Crème dessert at Naranj Marrakech  

Even before I took the second bite, I found myself Googling for the recipe. While I found the recipe for “halwa” per se, I couldn’t find any recipes for the creamy dessert that was sitting in front of me. So, as I took the second bite, I began developing the recipe in my head!

Indian-Flavored Lebanese Halwa Crème 

Dissecting the Classic Halwa Recipe

Based on my Google search results, I discovered that traditional halwa from Middle Eastern countries resembled Indian burfi (milk fudge). I found that it was made by combining tahini (sesame seed paste) with milk powder, confectioners/powdered sugar, chopped pistachios, ground cardamom, and rose water or crushed dried rose petals. After understanding the key ingredients, I realized that the dessert in front of me had all those components, except for one – the milk powder. Given its light and fluffy texture, I could tell that the chef had folded whipped cream into the cardamom-scented, sweetened tahini mixture.

Indian-Flavored Lebanese Halwa Crème 

Formulating my Halwa Crème Recipe

Voilà… I was excited to have cracked the code (or at least I was convinced that I had), right there at the restaurant itself, before finishing up my cup of the dessert. I was determined to try making it as soon as I got home. On the walk back to our riad, another thought struck me – could I give this sweet sesame-flavored dessert an Indian touch?!


I began formulating the recipe in my head, asking all sorts of questions to myself. Would it work if I substituted the powdered sugar with powdered jaggery instead? If it did, could I have a brand new dessert for Sankrant? With tahini paste for the sesame (til) combined with jaggery (gul), the decadent dessert would be made of the two ingredients that are the essence of Sankrant! I was so excited and couldn’t wait to get back home.

Indian-Flavored Lebanese Halwa Crème 

Til Gul Halwa Crème

Turns out I was on the right track with my thought process. After returning home, I tested out the recipe I had created in my head while on vacation, and it turned out exactly as I had envisioned it – not too sweet, velvety, smooth, light, and fluffy, with cardamom-scented whipped cream, speckled with little granules of jaggery and a delightful hint of sesame seeds. To give the dessert a festive finish, I topped the cups with squares of store-bought sesame seed brittle that I picked up from the Indian store.

Indian-Flavored Lebanese Halwa Crème 

I hope you’ll give the recipe a try! I’ve linked a short video below that I put together for you that you can follow and easily whip up this signature concoction in your own kitchen. Its quick, easy and requires only four ingredients – heavy cream, jaggery powder or coconut sugar, tahini paste and ground cardamom. The fifth ingredient, which is the garnish or topping – the sesame brittle – is totally optional. You can skip it or use crushed nuts of your choice like honey roasted peanuts or almonds, candied walnuts etc. 

Indian-Flavored Lebanese Halwa Crème 
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Indian-Flavored Lebanese Halwa Crème 

  • Author: Vasanti
  • Yield: Serves 4


Indian-Lebanese fusion dessert with just 4 ingredients: heavy cream, tahini, jaggery or coconut sugar, and cardamom.




  • Start by whipping up the heavy cream in a medium bowl with a hand mixer at the highest speed until it forms soft peaks, for about 10 minutes. Set aside.
  • Place the jaggery powder and the tahini paste in another medium bowl and using the same hand mixer, whisk on medium speed until it is smooth and well combined, for about 5 minutes.
  • Using a spatula, scrape the whipped cream into the bowl with the jaggery and tahini mixture. Gently fold the whipped cream into the jaggery-tahini mixture by slicing down through the middle of the bowl, then scooping from the bottom of the bowl, and folding over on top. Give the bowl a quarter-turn with your other hand and repeat the folding motion until the jaggery-tahini mixture has been completely incorporated into the whipped cream.
  • Transfer to a piping bag and pipe or spoon into dessert cups.
  • Cover with a plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight before serving.
  • Serve chilled, topped with sesame brittle or chopped nuts of your choice.
  • The dessert cups will stay fresh for up to 72 hours in the refrigerator (see Notes).

Keywords: No-cook Recipes, Creamy Desserts, Sankranti Special

Step-by-Step Details

Recipe FAQ’s and Notes

Use Nuts of Choice

You can use crushed nuts of your choice like honey roasted peanuts or almonds, candied walnuts etc. in place of the sesame brittle for topping.

Freezing Tips

You can freeze dessert cups, if you wish. Make sure to use freezer safe glass or plastic dessert cups and seal them airtight to avoid freezer burn. The dessert will last in the freezer for up to 2 months. When ready to serve, do not attempt to heat it in any way. Transfer to the refrigerator and let it thaw for 4-5 hours, until soft.

Recipe Variations

Make the original Lebanese Halwa Crème by substituting ground jaggery with the same amount of regular sugar. Additionally, add 1 tsp of rose extract or 2 tsp of rose water to the heavy cream before whipping it. Lastly fold in crushed pistachios and top with rose petal dust and/or buds for serving.

Happy cooking

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Hi I’m Vasanti
…and I ❤️cooking ‘n clicking!!
I share a modern take on Indian cuisine made using nontraditional techniques and ingredients, while staying true to its authenticity. You’ll also find classic recipes from my beloved Maharashtrian culture and heritage.


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