My godfather came from Constantinople (Istanbul) and he made an excellent halva with pine nut, as his mother taught him. Although he was a fisherman by profession, he cooked great.


My grandmother in the village made it with peanuts and usually cooked it on a wood burning stove, so it was slow cooked. Since we spent Easter period in my grandmother’s village, I have related halva with Holy Week and the smell of burning wood.

Halva has always been to our house, especially during fasting periods.


The original recipe is made with semolina. Since semolina is made from wheat and therefore contains gluten, we replace it with polenta. Polenta is made from corn and is naturally sweeter so we need less sugar.



  • 1/2 cup of oil
  • 2 cups of corn semolina (Polenta)
  • 6 cups of water
  • 2 cups of sugar (preferably brown)
  • orange zest
  • peeled almonds or peanuts or pine nuts



  1. Place a non-stick pan on the fire. Add the oil , the polenta and the almonds or peanuts or pine nuts.
  2. Stir constantly, with a wooden spoon, until slightly cooked.
  3. Add the water, sugar and orange zest and continue stirring while boilng in medium heat. Cook it until the water is completely absorbed.
  4. Place it either in small bowls or molds for individual portion or in a large mold.



  • The ratio in the ingredients is as above and you can use espresso’s cup (60ml/2 fl.Oz) for 4 servings, or a normal cup for 16 servings.
  • I always use extra virgin olive oil in everything I do because it’s healthier and it doesn’t smell to me. But you can use sunflower or corn oil.
  • You can add cinnamon either with the sugar or when serving on top.
  • If you have roasted the almonds before, it is better to add them at the end.

Good luck and Bon Appetit!


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