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.
- 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.
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).