Greek Semolina Halva (Semolina Pudding)

I tried this Greek dessert for the first time five years ago at my Greek friend’s birthday party and I simply fell in love with it from the first bite! When you try it, you’ll be amazed at the delicious taste only four humble ingredients bring together when combined.

Greek Semolina Halva is also known as the “1;2;3;4” cake; as the original recipe calls for one part oil, two parts semolina, three parts sugar and 4 parts water.

There are two ways to make it. The first one is to make the syrup separately and add it to the cooked Semolina; or make it all together is one pot, which is the method I followed. I also tweaked the ingredients a little bit to my taste, as I like it thick in consistency and not too sweet.


  • 2/3 cups light olive oil; sunflower oil can also be used
  • 2 cups coarse Semolina
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 cups water
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 -2 teaspoons rose water (optional)

Heat oil until it gets just warm (make sure it doesn’t get very hot so the Semolina doesn’t burn)

Add the Semolina and stir continuously until it begins to toast and becomes golden brown and fragrant – this step takes about half an hour.

Add the sugar and stir for 5 minutes, then add the water, cinnamon, cloves and rose water. Keep stirring until it thickens and no longer sticks to the sides of the pot. At this point you can add chopped almonds, walnuts and raisins if you’d like. I made it without and it was still rich and delicious!

Turn the heat off, let it sit in the pot, covered with a clean kitchen towel for half an hour, then scoop it into a mold and cover it with a towel for another hour until it sets into the shape of the mold. Transfer it to a serving plate and garnish it as you like. You can dust it with cinnamon and sprinkle it with chopped nuts. I used a rose shaped cake mold for my Semolina Halva and fresh carnations to garnish.

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