Semolina Halva Recipe: Delicious Turkish Dessert

A conical portion of semolina halva (semolina dessert) on blue plate sprinkled with cinnamon and pine nuts

Originally published May 3, 2013, updated September 12, 2021

Semolina halva or irmik helvasi is a classic Ottoman dessert and Turkish people have been cooking this dessert for centuries in their houses. Sometimes semolina halva is cooked with milk, sometimes with pine nuts but it is always a very light dessert. Semolina halva (irmik helvasi) is also a dessert in Turkey cooked after a family member passes away, served at funerals. In winter Irmik helvasi is served with a cup of warm black tea and in hot summer months, it is usually served with a scoop of plain ice cream.

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Semolina halva recipe ingredients:

  • 1 cup semolina
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 cups milk (or 1 cup milk + 1 cup water)
  • 4 tablespoons butter or margarine
  • 4 tablespoons crushed nuts (almonds or walnuts)
  • optional – toasted pine nuts to top

Semolina halva cooking method:

  1. Heat the milk and sugar in a small saucepan and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat.
  2. In another saucepan, melt the butter and add the nuts. Cook for 2 minutes.
  3. Add the semolina and stir until the mixture is thick – the butter has been absorbed into the semolina and the mixture is beginning to change colour.
  4. Stir the milk and sugar mixture into the semolina. Be careful that the milk does not boil.
  5. Cook mixture over a low heat until the semolina is cooked to desired texture and the mixture is 1-2 times larger than when you started (such as rice). Remove from heat.
  6. Place a lid over the semolina saucepan and allow it to stand for 10-15 minutes to infuse.
  7. Serve with toasted pine nuts sprinkled over the top. You can also serve semolina halva with a scoop of ice cream.

A lot of Turkish desserts can be very sweet. Sometimes too much so. I like this semolina halva recipe because it’s subtly sweet, easy to make, and has a great end to Turkish meals.

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