Semolina halva is one of the most popular traditional desserts! The reason is not only the amazing taste but also its minimal cost. Subsequently it’s not weird that for centuries now, the original recipe has survived from wars, poverty and wealth and still nowadays you can find a variant of it in almost every Greek house. In the family where I grew, we used to make it often, especially during the fasting periods, always using the classic recipe “1 – 2 – 3 – 4 “, which means one cup of olive oil, two cups of wheat semolina, three cups of sugar and four cups of water. My mother makes this delight using freshly squeezed orange juice instead of water, and for extra taste and flavor she adds a pinch of orange zest, cinnamon, raisins and walnuts.
Although the taste of my mother’s recipe is etched deeply in my memory, I usually make a lighter but extremely delicious and aromatic variant, in which I use corn meal instead of wheat semolina, agave syrup instead of sugar and last but not least I cut the oil almost in half. For extra color and to give it an oriental touch, I also add saffron and turmeric.Because this delicious dessert is very simple to make, the recipe is ideal especially in times when you need to prepare an easy, tempting dessert for your friends or your family.
- 75 ml (1/3 cup) virgin olive oil
- 1 cup organic cornmeal (polenta)
- ¾ cup agave syrup or other liquid sweetener
- 2 cups freshly squeezed orange juice
- 1 tsp ground turmeric
- 10 saffron stamens
- ½ tsp orange zest
- ½ cup candied orange peel chopped or chopped dried fruit of your choice, such as raisins
- ground pistachios for garnish
1. In a heavy saucepan, add the olive oil along with the cornmeal and roast over low heat. Stir for about 10 minutes with a wooden spoon, until you get a nice color and a nutty aroma. Then add the orange zest, the saffron and the turmeric and continue stirring for five more minutes.
2. Add the agave syrup and the orange juice, stirring constantly, until the halva starts to get a thick texture. Pour the candied orange peel or dried fruits and mix.
3. With a spoon transfer the halva into a cake mold (0.8-1 liter capacity) and press to equally distribute and flatten the surface. Allow to cool for about two hours and then transfer in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours. Unmold from the pan on a platter, garnish with the pistachios and serve.