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It is possible to find many different types of helva (halva, halvah) in Turkey and you cannot just say it is a simple helva as each different helva has a different ritual.

As some are eaten on breakfast, some might be eaten as dessert after a fish dish or as just a snack or it is prepared with holy purposes.

The tradition I grown up helva is for holly days or after a death. Yes, it doesn’t sound very cheerful but it is believed that during the stirring the helva, the all house covered by amazing fried floor with butter smell. So, it is kind of memorising the person passed away and the helva is shared with neighbours. I think it is a good way of farewell. My mum used to make one during the holy days and it makes me to remember my childhood not only with the memories but also with smells and tastes.

The semolina helva (irmik helvasi in Turkish) is just very easy, yummy snack you can enjoy anytime accompanied by cup of tea or coffee.


  • 125 gr unsalted butter
  • 2 cups semolina
  • 2 cups water
  • 8 tbs muscovado sugar ( you can swap with normal sugar or honey instead of muscovado)
  • 1.5 cup milk
  • 1 cup pine nut (2 tbsp more decoration)


  • Before starting, mix the water and sugar in a pot, leave to simmer and heat the milk in a different pot.
  • On the pan, melt the butter and stir 5 minutes the pine nuts and then add the semolina and stir during 10-15 minutes under medium heat. The trick here is to stir it very well. If you stop stirring it may be burnt easily. So, just stir it very well.
  • Then, make the heat low and add simmered water & sugar mixture slowly.  Be careful at this stage, as pan is very hot, when the water is added it will splash around and steam may burn your hand. Just be careful and add slowly. When water is finished it is time to add the milk slowly and keep stirring until it gets a golden texture.
  • Last step will be putting the lid of the pan and leaving it to have a rest. After that you can shape it as you wish. I fry 2 tbsp pine nut in a small pan to decorate it.

Tips: I would recommend to eat with vanilla ice cream or clotted cream, raspberry jam.