Greek Halva: Semolina Pudding With Raisins and Nuts

Greece, Plate of halva and coffee
Apostolos Mastoris / Getty Images
Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 30 mins
Cool: 45 mins
Total: 85 mins
Servings: 8 to 10 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
566 Calories
21g Fat
93g Carbs
5g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 8 to 10
Amount per serving
Calories 566
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 21g 27%
Saturated Fat 2g 10%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 7mg 0%
Total Carbohydrate 93g 34%
Dietary Fiber 2g 8%
Total Sugars 66g
Protein 5g
Vitamin C 2mg 9%
Calcium 25mg 2%
Iron 2mg 11%
Potassium 140mg 3%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Halva is a semolina pudding that is sweetened with syrup and studded with nuts and raisins. It is a dessert that has Arabic origins but has been adopted into the Greek culture; it is widely served during fasting periods because there are no eggs or dairy in the recipe. It is denser than other types of puddings and has a soft and crumbly texture.

To make this dessert, coarse semolina is toasted in oil and then mixed with a syrup flavored with sugar, honey, cinnamon, cloves, and orange peel, as well as walnuts, pine nuts, and raisins. Greek halva is the perfect sweet to enjoy during Lent or for those eliminating dairy and eggs from their diet. It's also a nice ending to a Greek-inspired dinner.

Ingredients

For the Syrup:

For the Pudding:

  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil

  • 1/4 cup olive oil

  • 2 cups coarse semolina

  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts, more for garnish

  • 1/4 cup pine nuts

  • 1/4 cup raisins

  • Ground cinnamon, for garnish

Steps to Make It

Make the Syrup

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. In a medium saucepan, add the water, sugar, honey, cinnamon sticks, cloves, and orange peel.

  3. Boil for 5 minutes, then lower the heat and simmer gently.

  4. Remove the cinnamon, clove, and orange peel from the hot syrup. Keep hot.

Make the Pudding

  1. In another larger saucepan, over medium-high heat, add both the oils and heat until shimmering.

  2. Add the coarse semolina and cook, stirring frequently to prevent sticking.

  3. Cook the semolina in the oil until the grains begin to toast and turn a deep golden color.

  4. Remove the semolina pan from the heat and carefully add the hot syrup to the semolina mixture. The semolina is going to sizzle, bubble, and spatter so be careful not to burn yourself.

  5. Stir in the walnuts, pine nuts, and raisins. Continue to cook, stirring often, until the semolina absorbs all the liquid.

  6. Cover the pot tightly and set aside to cool for 10 to 15 minutes.

  7. Spoon the mixture into a pudding mold or individual ramekins. Allow the pudding to cool to room temperature before serving.

  8. To serve, sprinkle with cinnamon and more chopped walnuts, if desired.

Tip

Be very careful when adding the hot syrup to the semolina as the mixture can bubble up and splatter easily, causing burns. Remove the pan from the heat, pour in the syrup very slowly, and stir constantly.

Recipe Variations

  • Use farina or cream of wheat as a substitute for the semolina.
  • Instead of walnuts and pine nuts, use toasted almond slivers for the added crunch.
  • You can substitute lemon zest or peel for the orange peel if you like.
  • Replace the raisins with dried dates, figs, or apricots.