Halvás - Semolina pudding flavored with lemon zest

Aug 12, 2013

 Halvás, a popular and easy to make dessert, is served across North Africa, Western Asia, the Balkans, Eastern Europe, Malta and the Jewish world.
The word halvás (χαλβάς) derives from the Arabic ḥalwā meaning sweet confection.  The name describes two types of desserts: one is flour-based, mostly made with semolina flour, and the other nut-butter based, usually made from tahini (sesame paste). In Greece and Cyprus, the term is used for both varieties of the dessert. The standard recipe for semolina halvas is easy to remember since it is often referred to as "1:2:3:4”.because it calls for one unit of oil, two of semolina, three of sugar and four of water, 
Semolina can be toasted to your taste and dry chopped fruits, nuts and spices can be added to the batter for extra taste. Halvás can be kept at room temperature with little risk of spoilage. However, during hot summer months it is better kept refrigerated.

 Serves 16 (I used a 23cm round tube mold)

You don’t have to worry about grams for this recipe; just use any coffee cup to measure all your ingredients. 

1 cup vegetable oil
2 cups semolina
3 cups granulated sugar
4 cups water
Zest from one organic lemon

First make the syrup. In a small pot over medium-high heat, add sugar and water and bring to boil. Simmer until the sugar has completely dissolved, - about 6-7 min.
Meanwhile, heat oil in a cooking pot on medium-high heat. Add the semolina  and stir constantly for about 7-10min for a light toasting, or until the semolina is  golden brown, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat.
Carefully, pour the hot syrup into the pot with the toasted semolina. For a moment the mixture will start bubbling like hot lava so be careful. Return the pot to medium- low fire and mix constantly for 5-6min until the batter thickens; add the lemon zest (At this stage you can add dry chopped fruits like cranberries, apricots and sultanas, or dry nuts like walnuts and almonds).
Remove from the fire and spoon the batter to the baking pan or mold. Let cool; unmold and serve at room temperature.
Halvás can also be served, dusted with cinnamon.


  1. I had tasted halvas in Greece many years ago and I still remamber the flavor of cinnamon and orange. I will try to make it my self. Thanks for sharing, nice pics!

  2. I just made it, and it rules! Just like yaya's!