I had a lot of fun filming this episode because Halva is one of my all-time favorite Greek recipes. It’s very representative of Greek cuisine in that it is made with pantry staples and the method is uncomplicated. Once you get used to making it you’ll notice that the recipe is also adaptable. In this version I add raisins for texture and flavor, but you could swap them out for almonds, or leave the recipe plain. It’s up to you!
The main ingredient of halva is semolina, which I always have in my pantry and is easy find at the store. The entire recipe is made on the stovetop so be sure to use a pot with high sides and have everything ready so it can easily be added as you cook. Take your time when toasting the semolina because it’s the light brown toasty flavor that really makes a difference in the finished dish.
The halva should cool in a dish before it is served. Once it’s room temperature you can easily serve it however you’d like. At our restaurant we’d pack it into a ramekin and unmold it onto a plate. This is a very pretty look, which dresses it up quite a bit. You can even garnish the plate with a candied orange slice (link) and some cinnamon sticks. Other times I’ll crumble it over Greek yogurt, ice cream, or just cut out a soft square and eat it with my hands. There is no wrong way to enjoy it!
This is a great recipe for children and adults, it appeals to everyone. I often add it to containers and pack it in my children’s lunchboxes since it transports very well. If you have any questions about how to make this or ways you could flavor it, please leave a comment and let me know. Once you get used to making it you’ll find it becomes a regular in your repertoire. Enjoy!
This is a traditional Greek dessert made with semolina, a grain that commonly found there. People often make this at home and serve it to friends when you come over. It can also be made a little fancier and molded in a ramekin before being served at a dinner party.
½ cup olive oil
½ cup vegetable oil
1 cup finely ground semolina
1 cup coarse semolina
1 cup raisins (optional)
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
2 ½ cups granulated sugar
4 cups water
2 lemon peels
1 cinnamon stick
To make the syrup, combine the sugar, water, lemon peel and cinnamon stick in a medium saucepan. Bring it to a low boil over medium-high heat and dissolve the sugar in the water. Then remove the pan from the heat and allow the syrup to cool completely to room temperature. Once it is cooled, remove the cinnamon stick and lemon peel and discard.
Place a 7x11 baking dish next to the stovetop.
Add the oils to a large stockpot with high sides. Bring the heat to medium and let the oil warm up for 3-4 minutes. When a pinch of semolina dropped in the oil sizzles you can add all of the semolina. Slowly stir in both varieties of semolina to toast it. Use a wooden spoon to move the grain around the hot pot. As the grain toasts it will darken in color, and the sides will bubble a little bit. Continue toasting the semolina until it is medium brown and it is evenly mixed with the oil, about 10 – 12 minutes.
Once the semolina is completely toasted stand back and carefully add the cooled syrup to it. The mixture will immediately begin to bubble, stir it well a wooden spoon until the syrup is totally absorbed. Then, fold in the raisins and ground cinnamon.
Pour the finished mixture into the baking dish and spread it evenly with a spatula. Allow the halva to cool completely to room temperature.
To serve, scoop the mixture into a mold, or into a bowl and serve.
Nikki Glekas is the owner of Nikki Glekas Events, a full-service catering and events company located in Stamford, CT. She is currently operating with COVID-safe procedures and is happy to discuss your event and catering needs with you. To discuss further please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 203.658.8659.