Classic Halvah with Semolina

Halva is a semolina pudding that is sweetened with syrup. It is a dessert that has Arabic origins but has been adopted into the Greek culture and is widely served during fasting periods because there are no eggs or dairy in the recipe.

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1 cup olive oil
2 cups coarse semolina flour
3 cups sugar
4 cups water
1/2 cup pine nuts
1/2 cup seedless raisins
1/2 cup blanched almonds
1-2 tsp cinnamon powder
grated rind of 1 lemon
1/2 cup lemon juice
cinnamon powder for dusting (optional)


1.  Bring sugar and water to a boil over medium heat and simmer, uncovered, for 10 - 15 minutes, until slightly thickened.

2.  Add lemon juice and set aside.

3.  Toast the pine nuts and almonds in an ungreased skillet.

4.  In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil and then slowly add the semolina, in a steady, thin stream, stirring with a wooden spoon, as for roux.

5.  Stir the semolina with the hot oil for about 10 minutes, over medium heat, until very lightly browned.

6.  Add the toasted nuts and raisins and stir. Sprinkle in a little cinnamon.

7.  Slowly add the hot syrup, stirring all the while, and continue cooking and stirring the mixture until it is very dense, almost solid.

8.  Remove and pour into a mold to set, or serve in individual bowls or plates, sprinkled with additional cinnamon.

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