Semolina Halvah

Semolina Halvah |

Semolina is called “irmik” in Turkey and it’s made of Durum wheat. We use semolina in different ways, but its halvah is the most popular one. It has a yellow color just like bulgur (pounded wheat). They are so similar that if you’re not familiar with both of them, you may be confused. The difference is; semolina is more yellow and thinner than bulgur. Bulgur is mainly used in savory dishes (bulgur pilaf) whereas semolina is generally used in desserts (semolina cake). But semolina is also used in some dough to prevent it from sticking (balls with garlic) and also in bred dough to make its outer part crust.

Semolina halvah is one of my favorite desserts as it has a very aromatic scent and it’s easy to make. I must make a confession here: I don’t know why, but generally I crave for this halvah at nights and yes I make it at nights. This semolina halvah is from last night. Alright, I know how unhealthy it is to eat such a dessert at night, but I go to bed very late, I mean not just after eating it. Can it be a good excuse? It’s the destiny of semolina halvah in my life, to be eaten at nights! But I also feel so sorry for the neighbors as we’re living in a building with four floors and 4 apartments on each floor. I’m sure they felt the smell of tasty halvah last night, and it’s evil enough to cause others to crave for halvah at such a time. And to lighten my guilt, I gave a bowl of semolina halvah to each neaighbor in the building this morning.

Note: Originally pine nuts are added to this halvah, but we ran out of it and I used walnuts instead, which is also fine.
Irmik Helvasi

–    2 cups semolina
–    125g butter
–    2 cups sugar
–    4 cups water
–    Half lemon
–    A handful of crumbled walnuts or pine nuts
–    Castor sugar to garnish

Melt the butter in a large and deep pot. Pour two cups semolina and walnut in it and saute it over low heat stirring continually with a wooden spoon. Low heat is so important here, otherwise semolina gets dark very easily but not cooked. So you must be patient to wait some time (about 20 or 30 minutes) to cook it fine. Do not forget to stir it continually if you don’t want an overcooked halvah. You will feel its hearty scent and see the change in its color. It will turn from yellow to brownish color gradually. This means it’s cooked.

Meanwhile boil 4 cups of water in another pot and just before taking it from fire, squeeze half lemon in it.

While the semolina is still on fire, pour the boiled water on it very carefully. Since both of them are very hot, when you pour the water, you’ll hear a very loud boiling noise “cossssss!”. To prevent it from splashing on the oven, cover its lid immediately. After a few minutes, add sugar and stir. Cook it for a few minutes more and take from fire. I love it hot, but generally it is served cold. You can serve it in small bowls or you can turn the bowl upside down on a plate to give it a cute shape just like in the pictures here. Then you can garnish it with castor sugar. Cinnamon is also a good alternative for garnishing.

Semolina Halvah |

A Joke From Turkish Elderly

Unfortunately, making semolina halvah is generally associated with fumerals in Turkey. People make this halvah and serve it to the guests who come for condolence. The relatives or neighbors do this on behalf of the family. Although this dessert has such a disrepute, we all love it make it very often. Moreover, elderly people make a joke of this dessert among their fellows. When an elderly tells his fellow that he’s craving for semolina halvah, they start to laugh and the other says “you’ll have to wait more because I’m not planning to die yet”.(This picture is taken by my husband in Turgutreis/Bodrum and these lovely people are mom’s neighbors).


  1. says

    I have everything but the semolina. This looks delicious, and one I might try soon – after I pick up some semolina.

  2. says

    How sweet you are to give some to your neighbors. It looks so delicious I would covet it all for myself!

  3. says

    Semolina pudding (really just semolina cooked with water and sugar) was one of my favourite foods as a child but I haven’t eaten it in years. I’ll have to get some semolina and give your halvah a try…

  4. says

    I just got some semolina for an italian bread I am planning to bake and was wondering what to do with the rest of the semolina flour. Now I know what to do. Thanks!

  5. says

    Vrinda- There are also desserts with semolina and milk here. I’ll add them later. But my favorite is this halvah.

    Diana- you’ll not regret when you try.

    Reeni- The neighbors got really happy when they saw the halvah.

    Daily Spud- This halvah always reminds childhood memories for many people here, too.

    Mely- I’m sure that bread was so yummy. And how nice you’ll use the rest of the semolina for halvah.

  6. says

    Your halvah looks so delicious! I once tried to make a Greek dessert with semolina but it was such a disaster that I never used the ingredient again. Your recipe sounds like something I can handle! 😎
    The joke among Turkish elderly is funny although I almost feel disrespectful giggling at it. It’s nice to know that people have a sense of humor about such a serious matter!

  7. says

    yum! I love halva- my mom used to let me get it sometimes as a special treat. Never heard of using semolina for it thouhg- nice!

  8. Joy de Mestre says

    Absolutely delicious and I made it with milk. I also used walnuts as I had no pine nuts in the cupboard. Could have eaten the lot but restrained. Only found this recipe this morning and immediately made it. I had a packet of semolina in the cupboard and googled to find this recipe. Thanks heaps.

  9. says

    Thanks, lost my original recipe, interesting to learn Turkish tradition behind this dish too, I thought it was Indian.
    I also add milk and raisins.. Yummmm :)

  10. Danielle Desmarais says

    Thank you so much for this recipe. I had this twice 25 years ago. I had no idea of the name. I am so excited and will be making it tomorrow!


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