This is one of these hand-me down recipes- a friend gives to a friend and somehow it makes it to you because it is that good- everyone making his or her own tweaks along the way….
Traditional Semolina Halva with Almonds
3 cups sugar
4 cups water
1 lemon, thick slice of rind
1-2 cinnamon sticks
¾ cup olive oil
500 g thick semolina
1 cup whole almonds, blanched and roughly chopped
ground cinnamon for dusting
1. For the syrup: Dissolve the sugar in the water with the slice of lemon rind and the cinnamon stick. Bring it to a slow simmer. Boil it for 5 minutes, then remove it from the heat, and set aside.
2. Meanwhile, in a non-stick, deep pan, heat the olive oil and “brown” the semolina on a medium-high heat. Stir continuously, about 10 to15 minutes. During the last 3 minutes add the almonds to toast them slightly.
3. When the semolina has a golden brown colour, add the warm syrup (Note: Take care not to burn your hands, as the semolina bubbles and steams excessively). Reduce the heat to low and keep stirring until the mixture is very thick — it will have the consistency of a paste. When it pulls away from the sides of the pan as you stir, it is cooked. Removed from the heat.
4. Spoon the semolina into a lightly greased bundt pan or a loaf pan, and press with a spoon. Set aside and let cool. After it has cooled, carefully turn the semolina halva over onto a serving dish and sprinkle with ground cinnamon. It can keep for a few days at room temperature covered with a mesh screen food cover. (Do not place the halva in the fridge as it sweats.)
Serves 8 to 10