Turkish Semolina Halva

This semolina halva is one of my favorite Turkish desserts.  I have always thought of halva as a sticky and thick white block, and was delighted when Deniz introduced me to this very different type of halva.  It’s buttery and slightly sweet, light and fluffy, and eaten with a spoon.  Once I put one spoon in my mouth, I can’t stop eating until the bowl’s gone.  And then I start looking around for more.

Turkish Semolina Halva (Irmik Helva)

Unlike the dense halvas, this semolina halva is buttery and slightly sweet, light and fluffy, and eaten with a spoon.



  • 3 c semolina
  • 1 c butter
  • c sugar
  • 1 quart milk
  • ½ c pine nuts or walnut pieces
  • ½ c powdered sugar optional



  • Heat a very large saucepan on high heat.  Add and melt the butter, semolina, and nuts.  Stir until semolina is roasted, about 10 minutes.
  • Heat a separate saucepan, add the milk and sugar, stir to dissolve, and bring to a boil.
  • Add the boiled milk to the semolina mix, stir to evenly combine, and cover.  Reduce to medium high heat and cook for 3 minutes.  Reduce to medium heat and cook until the milk is absorbed, approximately another 3 minutes. Stir the mixture well, and cook on very low heat for 10 more minutes.
  • Remove the cooked semolina to a large bowl and fluff with a fork.  If desired, mix in flavorings (e.g., small spoon of nutella or a drop of lemon extract or a drop of almond extract, etc).  Dust with powdered sugar before serving.
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