Halva (or halwa) refers to many types of dense, sweet confections, served across the Middle East, South Asia, Central Asia, West Asia, North Africa, the Horn of Africa, the Balkans, Eastern Europe, Malta and the Jewish world.
There are two main types of halva. One is flour-based, which is slightly gelatinous and made from grain flour, typically semolina and the other is nut-butter-based, which is crumbly and usually made from tahini (sesame paste) or other nut butters, such as sunflower seed butter.
In greece we traditionally use either butter or olive oil to make it, and sugar is sometimes replaced with honey. Raisins, dates, other dried fruits, or nuts such as almonds, pine nuts or walnuts, are often added to the semolina halva.
This is my version of halva, which is sugar-free! I replaced half of the semolina with shredded coconut and the olive oil (or butter) with coconut oil. The sugar is replaced with agave syrup and I added some raisins to give it an extra sweetness. The ginger and cardamom seeds add to the exotic taste of coconut and make it more interesting!
Here is the recipe:
¾ cup coconut oil
1 cup coarse semolina
1 cup shredded coconut
1 ½ cup agave syrup
½ cup raisins
4 cups water
15-20gr. fresh ginger, peeled and sliced or 1 ½ teaspoons powdered ginger
4 cardamom pods
In a medium sauce pan add the water, ginger and cardamom, cover and bring it to boil. Boil for 5 minutes, bring the heat down and gently simmer for another 5-10 minutes. Remove the pieces of ginger and cardamom pods, mix in the agave syrup.and make sure you preserve your syrup hot for a few minutes, until you use it.
In a larger saucepan heat the coconut oil, at medium heat, and add the semolina and shredded coconut, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until it takes a golden color (make sure you don’t burn it though!).
Put the heat down to low and gradually add the hot syrup to the semolina and coconut mixture, stirring. Now be cautious because it is going to sizzle, and spatter! Stir in the raisins (and watch them expand!) and continue to cook until the all of the liquids are absorbed.
Remove from heat, cover with a towel and let it stand for 15 minutes, until it cools down a bit.
Spoon the mixture into a pudding mold or individual ramekins or bowls. Allow it to cool to room temperature before serving. Later on you may store it in the refrigerator if you like it best cold, but it is preserved perfectly well outside the fridge as well.
To serve, you may sprinkle with chopped almonds or chocolate or just shredded coconut.
Special thanks to Denia for the photos!!!