Complete List of Recipes & Reflections

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Macedonian Halva (Μακεδονικός Χαλβάς)

For those of you who are fasting for Lent or practicing vegetarian/vegans, this is your lucky day. Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Irish eyes are smilin'! :)

Halva ready for service - Click to enlarge image

One of the hardest aspects of a fast or strict dietary regimen is avoiding tempting sweets and finding acceptable substitutes for dessert courses. This is especially hard on kids. Confections like this one are popular amongst Greek families during the Lenten period. I simply loved this stuff as a child. Still do!

There are probably as many variations on this recipe as there are Greek matrons with culinary opinions. My recipe is quite basic, feel free to add or substitute other elements like pine nuts, sesame seeds, walnuts, or whatever else tickles your fancy. A few drops of orange blossom water or even some lemon rind in the syrup could also be a nice touch.

I should mention that not only are there numerous permutations for this recipe, there are also alternative preparation methods involving the oven, for instance. To add to the complexity of the matter, Greeks apply the term halva interchangeably to flour or nut-based (i.e. ground sesame seed or pistachio etc.,) versions of this confection.

Thus much have I for you today on the topic of my Macedonian halva recipe. I hope you try it. If you know any Irish folk, give them a hug today. Greece and Ireland have a lot in common these days.


1 cup coarse semolina
1 cup Greek blossom honey (anthomelo, ανθομελο)
4 cups of water
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil* (vegetable oil may also be used)
¼ cup blanched almonds, chopped
¼ cup sultana raisins* (optional, but highly recommended)
Ground cinnamon

Note: for those of you with a keener sweet tooth, adding a ½ cup or so of sugar to the syrup is an option. I prefer the simple purity of the honey as my sweet tooth has dulled with wisdom... ;-)

  1. Combine honey and water in a pan, and set to boil as our syrup. When it has boiled, set it to simmer while you prepare the semolina mixture.
  2. Heat olive oil in a pot over medium to high heat
  3. When the oil is hot, add the semolina to the pot and mix it continuously with a wooden spoon to brown the semolina thoroughly; try to keep it from smoking much, keep it moving in the bottom of the pan. About 6 – 8 minutes. Do not burn it.
  4. Once the semolina has been browned, use a deep kitchen spoon or ladle and gradually add the still-simmering honey-water mixture to the pot. Be careful, do not add it all at once and keep your hands away from the pot opening.
  5. Mix the thickening semolina mixture well and keep adding the syrup until it is fully absorbed then add the almonds and raisins, lower the heat to medium low and continue mixing well for a few more minutes.
  6. Spoon the mixture quickly into 2 small 6 inch spring-form jelly/cake moulds which you have pre-greased with olive oil, and then use a spoon to pat the mixture down well and evenly into each mould; take care to ensure a uniform and level finish.
  7. Set the moulds to cool. Turn out onto a service plate and sprinkle with cinnamon before enjoying.

Total preparation time: 20 minutes

Desserts like this one are about getting back to the basics. Did I mention it is cholesterol free?

Pánta Kalá! Πάντα Καλά! (Always Be Well)

Sam Sotiropoulos
Greek Gourmand™
Greek Food Recipes and Reflections
Copyright © 2008, Sam Sotiropoulos. All Rights Reserved.


Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

That looks delicious!



Artemis said...

This is one of my favourites!! =) I'm not sure about the name though... my understanding is that the one with semolina is called "halvas simigdalenios" and the one with tahini "makedonikos"

Sam Sotiropoulos said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sam Sotiropoulos said...

Well, Artemis, that's because everybody's a Greek food expert these days... ;-) Take it from me, the name is correct and so is the name of the other one. In this instance, the method of preparation is after the Macedonian manner. There are other ways and means to prepare halva. Thanks for the observation, it is correct and not, both at the same time. lol

Mosaicology said...

I may try this! I learned something new from you.

Greek in Cool Springs said...

I enjoy halva at breakfast with coffee. There is a good Greek restaurant here that makes it, my wife goes there at least twice a week.

SuzyEats said...

Looks great. Thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...

Cool Technique. Have you ever had Tres Leches? This halva looks like it could soak up a lot of milk as well.

Jacoba said...

Made it (love the stuff) and it's probably the best halva recipe ever. It's a must make!

Sam Sotiropoulos said...

@Jacoba Thank for the feedback and the high praise! :-)

Anonymous said...

Your blog is very informative. It is very interesting and i have enjoyed reading it. Thank you for sharing your ideas. I'm happy i found what i am searching for.

Anonymous said...

Love people who can tell their ideas clearly. Thank you.

Bill C. said...

This looks wonderful, can't wait to try it!

Anonymous said...

Good Article

Anonymous said...

Simple but good.
Great recipe.
I hope to try this very soon.