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Semolina Halva: an infographic recipe

8 March, 2011

An infographic for a Semolina Halva Recipe

Click on the image to enlarge

The other day, I asked my mum for a recipe – ‘any recipe you like’ I said to her, in order to participate in GOOD’s ‘Redesign the Recipe‘ project.

Semolina halva was Maria’s suggestion and she said to me that it is a very easy one to remember at least for the ingredients part. Olive oil, semolina (preferably coarse), sugar (preferably brown) and water in 1, 2, 3 and 4 portions respectively. It can be even more easy if you happen to know the first words of the Beatles’ song ‘All together now‘ (‘One, two, three, four, can I have a little more?’). It is vegetarian and vegan friendly.

So I designed the infographic recipe above and I suggest you to try it out. Semolina halva is a quite simple dessert to cook/prepare and it belongs to the repertory of many national cuisines.

Although the proportions of the ingredients (1-2-3-4) come very handy, you do not have to stick to them. There are many cooks who use less olive oil and less sugar depending on how ‘juicy’ and sweet they want their halva to be. This will reduce significantly the amount of calories you get from the dessert.

Optionally you can add some peeled, chopped almonds (or other nuts) when you start heating the olive oil with the semolina and at the end of the cooking you can also sprinkle cinnamon on the halva.

Although I rarely cook (in most cases I eat raw or minimally prepared foods) I tried this in order to illustrate the recipe as well as I could. Then with the experience of Maria Primenta but also with the experience of other people who cook often halva and the comments and feedback of some friends (see Credits) I ended up with the infographic you see.

It only makes sense that the inclusion of the experience of an ignorant cook like me enhances the possibility that the recipe could be accessible to most people.

Here is a description of my experience from preparing the semolina halva according to the infographic:

To start with in my kitchenette I have only one pan and it is not a large one. As a result I could not follow the recipe exactly as it is on the infographic. I started preparing the syrup (which it seems that it takes much less time than it takes the semolina to fry, so ideally if you have the utensils the infographic suggests, you should start with the semolina and the olive oil.) When the syrup was ready I stored it temporarily in a soup bowl and I covered it with the cover of the pan.

Straight after, I rinsed/washed the pan and I put in it the semolina and the olive oil. As my pan was rather small and I had a cup to measure the quantities of the ingredients I put half a cup (1/2 cup) of olive oil and  1 cup of semolina. So now the portions were Olive oil: 0.5 cup – Semolina 1 cup – Brown Sugar: 1.5 cups – Water: 2 cups. The 1 cup of semolina that I used weighed about 155g.

I put the pan on the hob and I started heating and stirring the mixture. The truth is that the idea of frying is one that I try to avoid as much as I can but I gave in just to try out the recipe. As long as the semolina had darkened (became browny) I decided to empty the still very hot syrup from the soup bowl into the pan with the semolina and the olive oil. To be honest with you I was not feeling at all confident of what would happen. Basically the mixture of the semolina and the olive oil was rather liquid/juicy and I was thinking that if I would add the syrup the whole thing would become a soup that would never give something solid… How little I knew!

I would say that emptying the smaller pan with the syrup (in my case the soup bowl) into the larger one with the semolina/olive oil is the most  (or perhaps the only) dangerous part of the process. Generally speaking it seems that the idea of emptying/mixing water (that mainly the syrup consists of) into frying/piping hot oil is one of the most seek self-harming methods the humankind has conceived so far. If you finally decide to do it I suggest that you wear a full body armour. Anyway I found a large spoon (just to mention here that as I did not have a wooden spoon I used a standard metallic one for stirring all way through) and I emptied in small portions the syrup in the pan. Wearing cooking gloves during this process could be a safe thing to do.

So I started stirring the syrup with the semolina/olive oil mixture and after a while instead of having a soup… MAGIC! The whole mixture started taking a texture similar to mashed potato. It was still though rather liquid. Some (significant) stirring more and it was firmer. I was gradually reducing the heat. I switched off the hob and I left the pan for at least 10 minutes to cool. Then, using the large (plastic) spoon as a mould and the metallic spoon as an assisting utensil I shaped 5 generous portions of halva. Lacking any cinnamon and almonds I sprinkled some sesame seeds on them.

I left the halva to cool for at least half an hour and then I tried it. I dare to say that it tasted good; it could be the luck of the beginner. Or that the infographic works well!

I hope that you will be lucky too! If you want to print out the recipe here is a PDF (printer-friendly) version of it.

Many thanks to Maria Primenta for providing me with the recipe. I would also like to thank Tony Primentas & Olga Primenta (it looks like this infographic was a family affair!) for the repetitive feedback that they gave me during the design process. I am also grateful to Nancy Giannopoulou, Titika Maragoula, Kalliopi Vgontza and Yannis Kazantzoglou.

If you found this post interesting, why not have a look at other related posts:
The Food Cube (as the new Food Pyramid)
Potatoes in the UK
Carrots in the UK
Know your onions: an infograph
One Comment leave one →
  1. Happy Camper permalink
    16 June, 2011 12:44 am

    I was looking all over the place for a vegan recipe of this Halva, and I so happen to stumble upon your site. I must admit, your recipe makes it look so simple than I was a bit apprehensive… but when I added the syrup to the semolina, and like magic, my one cup of semolina bubbled up to 4 cups full! Amazing! And it taste great too 🙂 Thanks for the infograph!

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