A couple of weeks ago, I posted a recipe for halva with sesame oil and orange, made with bought halva in a package. Today, I am sharing the traditional recipe of Greek halva made from scratch. It is yummy and nutritious. The other good thing about it, I think, is that whatever calories you get by eating it, counteract nicely with the generous sprinkle of cinnamon, which is an incredible fat burner.
So, are you ready for this Greek delicious recipe? Here we go:
Ingredients (use the same cup to measure all).
1 cup of extra virgin olive oil (only for the olive oil: don’t fill to the very top, but leave a smidgen of empty space on the top of the cup).
2 cups of semolina (see notes below for what type of semolina to buy)
3 cups of plain sugar
4 cups of water
The peel of a lemon
1 cinnamon stick
Dash of salt
Optional: about a dozen blanched almonds, chopped (see notes on how to use).
Optional: A small amount of cooking chocolate, grated (see notes on how to use).
Place the water, the sugar, the lemon peel and the spices in a saucepan and boil for 5 minutes in moderate heat. Remove from heat, remove the spices and the peel, cover and put aside.
While the syrup is boiling, heat the olive oil in a low, large saucepan. When the oil heats up, throw in the semolina, cook for 7-10 minutes stirring constantly with a wooden ladle in medium heat. Keep an eye on the time.
The semolina will take on a brown, biscuit-like color. When this happens, use a ladle to throw the syrup in the semolina. ATTENTION: It will spit. Keep a distance from the pan. After a couple of ladlefuls it will stop spitting so much, so throw the rest of the syrup from the saucepan directly into the semolina.
Throw in the salt. Keep stirring and cook in medium heat. This will take another 7-10 minutes. Keep an eye on the time. Once it starts bubbling, keep your distance, as it will spit for a while before it thickens.
Stir continuously throughout this time.
The halva is ready when you notice that it comes off the sides of the saucepan with a smooth surface as you stir. See this picture? The mixture is all grainy but where it comes off the sides as you stir, it’s smooth. This is when the halva is done.
Remove the pan from the heat. Place a clean kitchen towel over it and let it cool for about 30 minutes.
Put the mixture in a cake mold, then serve it on a large plate. Sprinkle cinnamon generously over it.
- You can use fine semolina (it has the texture of fine sand) or thick semolina or, as savvy Greek housewives do, use a mixture. i.e 1 cup of fine, 1 cup of thick semolina.
- If you want to add almonds, boil them whole in water for a couple of minutes, let cool, then skin and chop them finely. When you heat the oil, throw them in, fry for 1 minute, then add the semolina.
- If you want to include grated chocolate: After you let the halva cool, take out about a third and place it in a bowl with the chocolate. Mix well. Put half of the larger halva mixture in the mould. Then add the dark mixture with the chocolate, then add the remaining halva on top. This will result in a two-coloured halva that has the chocolate strip in the middle.