Good morning from Switzerland everyone! I am unfortunately in the middle of cramming for an assignment due Friday, and as I curse everything around me while wishing I could just be sipping coffee at a beach bar in Athens, I have to remind myself that I am studying for my MBA by choice and that I am learning a lot of useful things – no matter how painful and unnecessarily complicated the assignments might be! But on a much brighter note Greek Easter is coming up soon, and for those of you who follow Greek Easter and/or might still be fasting (or “eating clean foods” as they say in Greece) I have a lovely Lent-friendly recipe for you today: Greek Halvas – a sweet semolina pudding with raisins & almonds.
Halvas is a well known Lenten food but I have always been hesitant to make it because I personally absolutely hate the dry halvas they make in Greece as I find it to be really bitter. This soft and sweet halvas, however, is absolutely unique and delicious. It is generally made by following the 1-2-3-4 rule: 1 cup of olive oil, 2 cups of semolina, 3 cups of water, and 4 cups of sugar. What is semolina you ask? It is a coarse high-protein wheat that’s often found in pasta, breakfast cereals, puddings, and couscous. As it is made from durum wheat and not the softer wheat usually found in bread, it is digested more slowly by the body and has a low glycemic index, which is very beneficial for those looking to lose or control their weight and blood sugar. Unfortunately this recipe also calls for the use of sugar, which I would normally try to avoid completely, but as this was my first time making my own halvas I did not want to use honey for fear of altering the texture. However I have read a few more recipes and articles and anyone who wishes to should be fine using honey as a substitute.
The semolina is toasted in the olive oil until it becomes golden and fragrant and then it is mixed with a sugar, clove, orange peel, and cinnamon syrup. YUM! I also added raisins and almonds but you can choose different fruits or nuts or just add nothing at all. The halvas is then pressed into a mold (usually a bundt cake mold), flipped upside down and served. As the recipe is sweet I find a little bit goes a long way and you can easily satisfy your sweet tooth with a small piece or slice. So this is a great little treat without all the guilt! My roommate also affectionately calls it upside-down turnaround cake, which I think is a very cute description for this dish!
I hope all of you still observing Lent get the chance to try to make this dish for yourselves before Greek Easter. And as always: enjoy!
- 1 cup olive oil
- 2 cups semolina
- 3 cups sugar
- 4 cups water
- 2 cloves
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 2 orange peels
- Raisins and roasted almonds (optional)
- Place the water, sugar, cloves, orange peels and cinnamon in a pot and bring to a boil
- Let boil for 5 minutes or until the mixture thickens and remove from heat
- In the meantime, heat up the olive oil in a different pot and mix in the semolina
- Toast the semolina on medium-high heat, stirring continuously, until golden brown and fragrant (about 5 minutes). Be careful to keep stirring as the bottom can burn very easily without you seeing it
- Pour the warm syrup into the semolina and cook on medium-high heat
- Stir until the mixture becomes very thick and starts to pull away from the sides of the pot (about 10 minutes)
- Add in the raisins and almonds and spoon into molds, smoothing the top over so that it is even, since we will be flipping it over
- Let the halva cool for about 30 minutes before flipping the mold over a plate and tapping it until the halva slips out
About the author
Hi! I’m Natalia & I’m spreading the love of food and everything Greek. More about me »