Halva (Greek Sweet Semolina Pudding)

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I first came across this dessert in Athens a year ago. It was my first time in Greece and the trip was my birthday present.  We stayed at the Electra Palace Hotel  near old town and found this restaurant called Sholario.  We went back a couple of more times because we liked the ambiance and it is within walking distance from our hotel.  They have a set menu of typical Greek food where you choose from a huge tray of dishes they bring to your table.  Much like the dimsum in Hong Kong restaurants.

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You can opt to have only 4 dishes or 8 if you want.  After every meal, the owner comes with Greek coffee and a plate of dessert which was not on the menu.  The sons, doubling as waiters, always bring an extra serving for me when they bring a glass of ouzo for my husband.  I loved this dessert but I do not know what it was called.  I don’t even know what’s in it except that it was nutty, grainy and sweet.  Then I met fellow foodie Ivy who is from Greece and asked her. Not only did she identify the dessert from a picture I sent her on Facebook (see below), she also sent me a link to a recipe she posted a while back on her blog which is a fruit version of this dessert! How awesome is that? Thanks, Ivy.

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As a first attempt, I decided to make a simple version which I found on Recipezaar (#83998). I used almonds (which is what I had at the time) and soy milk instead of whole milk.  I also substituted the sugar with Splenda and used only half.  The result is a little drier than the dessert I remembered but it was still delicious.  Next time I make it, I will try Ivy’s recipe with the fruits.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup semolina flour
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup soy milk
  • 1/2 cup artificial sweetener like Splenda (or sugar)
  • 1 cup chopped almonds
  • 1/2 cup butter

Directions:

  1. Dissolve sugar in water and milk. Boil on medium  for 5 minutes. Keep on low.
  2. In a separate pan, melt butter and brown semolina flour in medium heat until golden brown, stirring constantly.
  3. Add almond nuts and continue stirring for 3 minutes, enough toast the nuts.
  4. Carefully add the syrup, (this will splash so pour slowly and be careful not to burn yourself!). Turn heat to low, continue stirring the mixture until you get a thick porridge consistency and it starts pulling away from the sides of the pan when you stir.
  5. Transfer to a greased mold or baking dish. Press down with the back of a spoon. Let cool.
  6. Unmold to a platter and sprinkle with more nuts.

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Keep at room temperature and do not refrigerate. My halva was “jelly-like” in consistency.  I used a bundt pan but my pan was way too big for my portion that it looked flat. It still tasted great with espresso!  Not bad for a first try.  I will definitely experiment with this again.

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» Ivy said: { Feb 19, 2009 - 12:02 }

Your halva looks great and I am glad that you liked it.

» Maya said: { Feb 19, 2009 - 07:02 }

Looks great. It reminds of Kesari- an Indian dessert made with semolina, milk, clarified butter,sugar, nuts saffron and raisins.

I could go for a plate of halwa just about right now!

» virtual chef said: { Feb 21, 2009 - 06:02 }

I understand that it is originally from India and spread to West Asia all the way to the Mediterranean. When I was trying to look for the recipe, I came across different versions such as the Indian halava or halwah, a Persian halva, this Greek halva and the Jewish Halvah. It looks like the one thing they have in common is that they are all made with semolina. I would love to try the Indian halwa next time!

» Ashley said: { Feb 23, 2009 - 01:02 }

Oh, that looks absolutely Heavenly! I love Greek food.

» stephchows said: { Feb 23, 2009 - 03:02 }

Hmm interesting, the only Halva I’ve had is made from a sesame paste and is more crisp. This looks good though!

» Elyse said: { Feb 23, 2009 - 09:02 }

This pudding looks fabulous! I love halva. My favorite Mediterranean deli used to sell it by the slice. It was such a wonderful treat. I can’t wait to try this pudding! Thanks for sharing the recipe.

» Kevin said: { Mar 3, 2009 - 09:03 }

This pudding sounds really good. I will have to try it.

» anona_mouse said: { Jun 4, 2009 - 11:06 }

it looks delicious i wish i had a piece RIGHT NOW!!


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