recipe by Umm Ramy

The moment you have all been waiting for, drum roll please.....Haliva! For me, haliva tops the hierarchy of Circassian breads. Like any other Circassian recipes I get from my mother, it starts with 5 pounds of flour. I haven't tried to adapt it to a smaller quantity yet, for fear of messing with a good thing, but let me know if you've personally had any success doing so. There are some slight variations in the preparation of the dough and filling, depending on who you ask, but this is how my momma makes it, and that's the only version I care about.

5 pounds all-purpose flour
1/2 gallon milk (possibly less), warm (about 100 degrees)
3 eggs, at room temperature
3/4 cups vegetable oil
2 tablespoons salt
1 gallon Mazola frying oil

1 recipe Circassian cheese (see post), drained overnight
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme (optional)
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley (optional)
salt and pepper

4 pounds boiling potatoes
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley (optional)
1/2 cup finely chopped onions, sauteed in olive oil (optional)
1/4-1/2 teaspoon cayenne (optional)
salt and pepper
*note: either add onions OR parsley, not both together

You will also need
1 pasta rolling machine
1 pasta wheel/ravioli cutter
1 medium/coarse strainer
1 extra large bowl and several smaller ones
1 wide frying pot (we use a roasting pan)
lots of clean towels/cloth for covering dough
plenty of plastic wrap

Manual or Electric Pasta Roller

Here's my mom's super duper fluted pastry wheel, courtesy of my jiddo. You can get one like this online, your local kitchen store, or Italian market.

We're talking haliva people...that means bust out the biggest bowl you can find. Dump the flour into the ginormous bowl, mix in the salt and make a well in the center. Warm the milk in the microwave or on the stove to about 100 degrees. Whisk the eggs, oil, and HALF the milk in another bowl and STRAIN using a coarse sieve. Slowly add the egg mixture to the flour mixture, blending them all together. Once the egg mixture and flour mixture are all combined, start adding the remaining warm milk a little at a time until a FIRM dough is formed. You may or may not need to use all the milk, it should not be sticky dough. Place dough ball in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap and a towel.

Allow dough to rest for at least two hours.

While the dough is resting prepare your fillings. It is actually recommended that you make the cheese a day ahead and allow it to drain in the fridge overnight. The potato filling can also be made a day or two ahead, but it is not necessary.

The cheese is then simply crumbled up and seasoned with salt and pepper to taste. It is usually easier to work with if you put it in a casserole dish, so you can spoon it out without the sides of a bowl getting in the way. It is up to you, if you want to add some finely chopped parsley or crushed, dried thyme.

Wash the potatoes well, place in large pot and cover in water. Bring to a boil and continue to simmer until potatoes are fully cooked, like you would make mashed potatoes. When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, peel and mash them with a fork or potato masher. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Some people add some finely chopped parsley or sauteed onions, it is up to you (or your mama). My mother only added parsley but my grandmother sometimes added some onions and cayenne to spice it up.

Divide dough into four equal parts. Roll out a quarter of the dough into a baguette-like log. Slice log into one-inch sections. If you made the dough right you will not need to flour the dough or work surface. But if not, just lightly sprinkle some flour on each one. Not too much flour, or the haliva wont close.

Flatten each slice, by hand, into a disc, about 3 inches in diameter. Cover in plastic wrap and allow to rest while you flatten the rest.

Beginning with the first ones you flattened, pass the flattened discs through the pasta roller at #1, the widest setting. Cover these and let them rest while you work with the rest of the discs. Do not let the dough dry out or you will not be able to seal the haliva closed.

Next, pass the discs through the roller set at #3. Cover and let rest again.

Then finally, pass through the roller at #5. This goes a lot faster with an electric roller or eight arms.

The disc will end up in an uneven oblong shape. They should be fairly thin, but not paper thin.

Lay out flat on a work surface.

Spoon about 2 scant tablespoons of filling onto the top half of the dough.

Match up the bottom of the dough to the top, making a semi-circle. Using your fingertips, starting from the ends to the top, firmly press the edges together.

Press down the edges well. Do not leave a lot of air in the pocket or the haliva will blow up during frying.

Now it is ready to be sealed and trimmed with your crimped pastry wheel/ravioli cutter.

Start at the bottom right edge and make a rounded line to the top center.

Continue from the top, curved around to the bottom left.

Pull away excess strips and set aside for later use in a plastic bag.

Too cute!

Line up all the filled haliva on a cloth and cover with another cloth while filling the rest.

Line up haliva on pans, or like many adighe women, a covered ironing board. Probably because it is easy to pull it up to the kitchen table and later to the stove for frying.

Now get your giant bottle of Mazola and pour about half (about a gallon or so) into your roasting pan.

It should be a couple inches deep in the pan.

Bring the oil to about 350-375 degrees, hot enough that when you drop in the haliva it immediately floats to the top bubbling.

Carefully drop in as many haliva as you can fit in the pan comfortably.

Now here's the trick to frying. If you wait until the first side is completely golden brown to flip, it will not want to turn to the other side because one side will be too inflated and the other too heavy. You have to flip it over while the first side is still a little blonde in color, then flip it back to finish cooking later.

This is after the first flip.

The whole process is really fast, especially if you have a lot of haliva going at the same time. My mom uses a strainer to drain the haliva for a few seconds while she pulls out the rest before they burn.

You can not answer the phone while doing this, so don't even think about it.

Let the haliva drain on paper towels.

Line up all the haliva on some towels or paper towels to drain while you fry up the rest. If you are lucky enough to be the one lining them up, do not hesitate to try a piping hot haliva...there is NOTHING better.

Pile the haliva onto several serving platters.

Tada! It's like magic, all puffed up and delicious. Well, it is a magic trick that takes several hours and a lot of steps :)

Enjoy immediately or freeze for up to 6 months in freezer bags.


  1. Oh my God.. so many childhood memories of running around the CBA with a haliva in each hand haha. For some reason it's not letting me see the recipe for circassian cheese (which I'm making for iftar). Let me know! :)

  2. I'm sorry it took me so long to respond to your comment, I had no idea anyone was actually reading this blog! In any case, I was able to see the cheese recipe under "cheese/dairy" and I don't see why it wouldn't have opened for you. If you are still not able to open it, send me an email and I will email it to you...pajamarima@gmail.com

  3. This is Great!!finally can re-taste haliva :D thank you Rima!!Hope soon i'll find a recipe for chips o basta

  4. Thank you I can now make everything without my.mom :)


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