Monday, August 31, 2009

Sofia's halva

Tastes from our childhood become such an integral part of who we are.

Foods that we loved as children, especially if made by someone we love, fill us with a deep memory-based happiness in our adult lives upon eating them again. As much as I can love a dish I have made now, it will never compete against delicacies like my grandmother's lentil soup (Faki), my mother's chicken parmigiana (when I used to eat meat, I could have eaten this every day) or store-bought Pfeffernüsse gingerbread biscuits given to me each time I visited my Nanna and Great Nanna.

If I had to pick just one childhood treat, it would have to be my Yia yia's (Sofia) semolina Halva. She would put them into these little lego-coloured bumpy moulds and I could not stop at just one - ever. The most I had in one sitting was four, and for a 6 year old matchstick thin little girl, that was enough to make my stomach stretch to an unheard of size. My favourite place to eat them was in the homemade swing of a large, tiger striped blanket tied to two large tree boughs - my secret spot with my delicious treasure, absolute bliss.

However, one child's heaven-sent treat may most likely not be as appreciated by others who do not have the childhood memories attached. Whilst I love Halva, Ryan doesn't care for it, just as I don't care for his concoction of pasta with chicken stock and Kraft cheese singles. But there are those times when a person can enjoy someone else's childhood feast (just like I did with Ryan's grandmother's Ftira). So I can only suggest to give it a try, you might like it almost as much as I do.

Sofia's (Yia yia's) Semolina Halva
serves 8 -12

2 cups sugar
4 cups water

1 cup oil
2 cups coarse semolina (I used fine, and it still worked out)
1/2 cup sultanas
1tsp cardamom
cinnamon to sprinkle on top
crushed walnuts to sprinkle on top ( or fold through if you prefer)

Place sugar and water in a saucepan and over medium heat stir until sugar has dissolved. Set aside.

In a larger saucepan heat oil. Drop one piece of lemon peel into oil to test temperature and then discard lemon peel. Pour semolina into oil and stir until semolina is lightly browned (NOTE: I have been told by my aunt that the semolina should be browned further, more towards brown sugar in colour).
Add sugar syrup gradually - BE EXTREMELY CAREFUL as syrup with cause the semolina to sputter. Continue until all the syrup has been mixed into the semolina and turn off the heat. Stir through cardamom and sultanas and pour semolina into a mould/s of your choice. Let them set for at least 5 mins and then turn out onto a plate whilst the semolina is still warm.
Sprinkle with cinnamon and walnuts. Enjoy.

ease: 5/5.
prep time:
1min to get ingredients.
cooking time: 14mins - make semolina whilst making sugar syrup.
total: 15mins.

taste: 5/5 (I am biased on this one). What can I say? Aromatic cinnamon and cardamom give way to a vanilla-esque semolina with plump, tartly sweet sultanas and then crunchy walnuts. Each bite reminds me of childhood joy and my grandmother.

would I make it again: Yes.


  1. That is a delicious and refined speciality!



  2. I LOVE your blogs! Beautiful photography and great recipes, keep up the amazing work.

  3. Sooji halwa is something which is cooked in every Indian home at least once a month. Its so tasty. I too have made it a number of times. But yours looked extremely different yet mouth watering. and tempting.

  4. the combinatino of textures and condiments sounds awesome. I'm a first time visitor on your blog... like it really much. greeting

  5. mmmm I have a soft spot for halva. Yours looks delish! I've never thought about making it myself but maybe I will. Thanks for the post

  6. Oh my goodness!! I LOOOVE halva!!! Its a childhood thing for me!
    I need to get my grandmothers recipe!
    This looks so fabulous!