Semolina Halva with Currants


Semolina Halva is one of the most popular desserts in Turkish cuisine and we make it quite often. Although it is a favorite sweet treat of many people in Turkey, semolina halva is not produced at sweetshops or patisseries, so people make it at home. Semolina Halva with Pine Nuts is a traditional sweet treat, and known as a specialty of moms or grandmas. You know that it’s absolutely tasty if it’s made by an elderly woman! I know I can’t compete with such experienced masters of semolina halva, but I do love making it and my friends and guests always ask for a second one!


Semolina halvah is traditionally made with pine nuts, and it’s sometimes made with hazelnuts or walnuts depending on your taste. However, I’ve decided to make a twist on it and used dried currants this time! I love tiny size of currants and thought unlike nuts, their softness would go very well with this halva. It was like finding something precious when you feel these seedless small grapes in your mouth. If you like traditional way or if you like nuts more, you can definitely substitute these for currants.


I used half water, half milk when making it as I think milk helps it be creamy when boiling and it gives a creamy flavor when combined with the flavor of butter. But if you run out of milk, you can leave it out and use water instead. It will still be yummy! As far as I know there is no milk in recipes of most moms and grandmas, so it’s an addition of me, from new generation.


I must tell you that you shouldn’t be impatient when sauteing semolina in butter. You need to stir it continually not to burn it and it takes some time, about 15 minutes until you have the right light brown result.

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Semolina Halva with Currants
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
A wonderful halva with semolina and currants flavored with lemon zest
Serves: 6
  • 125g butter
  • 1 and ½ cup semolina
  • 4 tbsp currants
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp lemon zest, grated
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tbsp pistachio powder
  1. Melt butter in a pot and add semolina.
  2. Bring it to medium heat and stir semolina continually so that all of it changes color equally.
  3. Saute it until it gets light brown, for about 15 minutes.
  4. Add currants and stir a few times.
  5. Bring it to the lowest heat and add sugar, lemon zest, water and milk one by one.
  6. Stir with a wooden spoon a few times and let it absorb liquids within 7-10 minutes.
  7. Take it from stove when it gets thick and a little creamy.
  8. Share it into small bowls and let it cool.
  9. It gets thicker when cooled.
  10. Top with pistachio powder and lemon zest and serve.
Note: As an alternative serving as the one you see in pictures, you can wet a small bowl, fill it with semolina halva when it’s still hot and turn it upside down on a plate and then let it cool. Top with pistachio and lemon zest and serve.


    • says

      Joumana, I remember now that I ate a kind of semolina dessert with unsalted cheese at a kebab restaurant, and it was fantastic! I must search for its recipe now!

  1. says

    Funny timing – I have only ever had the pine nut version (known to me as Imrig Halva), but I was also thinking about a new version … I received a sample of chocolate Cream of Wheat in the mail, and that was the first thing I thought of. Trying a chocolate version – maybe with almonds. I love the idea of the currants in this one, and that would give me something to use them in besides scones and stuffed grape leaves. :)

    • says

      Chris, chocolate version of irmik halva sounds great! Almonds would be a perfect addition too! I love currants in dolmas and stuffed grape leaves or in rice pilaf, but I used them in this halva for the first time and the result was so pleasing!

  2. says

    A delicious treat! That is something I’ll have to make very soon…



  3. says

    Your updates to the traditional version sound lovely. Sauteeing the semolina in butter must smell delicious as it cooks!

  4. says

    Nice looking halva! So inviting. We used to make it in the middle of the night when we were back in college and pulling all nighters. No wonder we stayed up till morning with that sugar rush :)

    • says

      I don’t know how, but we crave for it at nights too! I’m sure my neighbors would get angry with me if I made these at night. Its smell becomes more tempting in the middle of night!

  5. says

    This looks so elegant and special Zerrin! Especially so when made by Grandmas. I like the mix of flavors you infused into it – irresistible!

    • says

      Thank you Reeni! Grandmas always know the best! Lemon zest and currants were definitely perfect and I guess my grandma would be proud of me!

  6. says

    This looks lovely, Zerrin, and I am very happy that you used currents instead of nuts, because I am allergic to nuts! I have a question about the word “halva”. Does it mean something? The middle eastern halva I am used to is made with sesame seeds and is a very firm candy. This sweet reminds me of the semolina filling in the Greek pastry galaktoboureko (my personal favorite).

    • says

      Hi Wendy! I’m happy that you can make this halva with currants. Halva is the name we use for desserts made with flour, semolina or sesame seeds. In its origin, halva was used in place of the word dessert. Now we have 3 types of halva. Tahini halva, one you know, which is very firm; semolina halva and flour halva. Never heard of galaktoboureko, must search for it!

  7. says

    Wow – another dish we Indians love and make. This semolina halva is one of my favourites, I make it very similar to you but have never added lemon zest.

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