Semolina Halva… And the taste of friendship!

When I was in college, my group of friends used to get together very often… When I say “often”, I really mean “often often”… so often that our mothers could never keep track of whether there was one more or one less of us in the house. We would move as a tribe among the houses… so often that it would feel like I was missing a limb if one of my best friends was not eating dinner with us. We had a very symbiotic life style. I cannot tell if it was good or bad for us! I’m just saying that was “how we rolled”, as tye teenagers now would say!

One person in the group has been particularly dear to me… Gokce and I would stay up all night, talking together or chatting on our (then new) addiction, ICQ. We would take turns on one desktop at home (oh gosh I am old!! Yes, once upon a time there was ICQ! It was state-of-the-art, along with our dial-up internet connections!). After long hours of talk, we  would whip ourselves up some breakfast at 2 am. Or we would get the urge to eat something sweet and we would make semolina halva (irmik helvasi) at midnight. We made lots of semolina halva during college years… LOTS!

Eventually those times had to end, because I was coming to the U.S. and she was moving to the Netherlands. We were so accustomed to doing everything as a pair that she decided that she would depart on the same day as I would. We would do the “grand leaving” together! January 4th marks our 11th anniversary of moving away from Turkey. That morning, on the phone, there were many  scared, excited, and nervous laughs of two young girls wishing each other good luck… not knowing what they were getting themselves into, on two different sides of the ocean.

We have seen a lot of ups and downs in each other’s lives since those chatty nights! Our lives have been going so parallel in many cases and so not in others, but she has always been there for me. She likes to surprise me by showing up at places I least expect her! The most memorable one was when she showed up at my wedding in South Carolina, coming all the way from the Netherlands. Walked into the bridal room half an hour before I walked down the aisle, causing my make-up to get runny after all the effort I had put into it!

So I would like to celebrate our 11th year of being geographically separate, but emotionally together, by surprising her with one of our favorite mid-night snacks. I miss those late nights a lot and get all teary-eyed when I remember them. Maybe one day, we will finally get our summer houses on the Mediterranean coast, where we’ll be only a couple of steps away from each other when we need a long night chat with halva!

Semolina Halva

  • 500 gr (~ 1 lb) semolina
  • 2 sticks of butter (1 cup)
  • 1/3 cup of pine nuts (optional)
  • 3 cups of water-milk mixture (2 cups of milk+1 cup of water)
  • 3 cups of sugar
  • 2 teaspoons of vanilla

1. Put water, milk, vanilla and sugar in a pot on medium-high heat.

2. Stir frequently to dissolve the sugar and bring it to a boil.

3. After it boils and all sugar dissolves, take it off the heat and set it aside.

4. Melt butter in another pot (big and wide) and add pinenuts.

5. Cook the pine nuts in butter until their color turns to light brown on medium-high heat.

6. Add semolina to the pot and stir frequently until it turns to a nice toasty-light brown color (15 min or so).

7. Turn down the heat to low-medium and carefully add the sugar-milk-water mixture to semolina. Be careful at this step since you can burn yourself with hot splatters from the pot.

8. Stir constantly until semolina absorbs all the liquid (approximately 5 minutes or so). Turn off the heat.

9. Put a clean dish towel over the pot and place the lid over the towel. Let it rest for half an hour to an hour.

Afiyet Olsun :)


  1. by All That I'm Eating
    2:35 pm
    Jan 5, 2011

    I’ve only ever put semolina on my roast potatoes to crisp them up so after seeing this, I’d better give it a go!

  2. by Monet
    10:55 pm
    Jan 5, 2011

    This is one of the sweetest posts I’ve read all week. I nearly got teary eyed thinking about her coming to your wedding! I have girlfriends like this…and I know how deep that connection can be. Thank you for sharing this sweetness! I hope you have a wonderful end of your week.

  3. by Amy
    10:30 pm
    Jan 9, 2011

    I love halva! Yours sounds delicious with the pine nuts added!


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