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A change of colour (that comes with a treat)




It’s been almost a week now, that sky here at the islands started taking its seasonal dramatic colours: one continuous alternation of shades, in dialogue with the sea, that starts mid September and really takes off in October and November. During this period, the sky looks so impressive that almost beats the classic Autumn images of fallen red leaves. And since trees are definitely not on the highlights of my island, I love to take afternoon walks at Paroikia and watch the shades of the sky merge with the painted facades of the old neoclassical houses and mansions. Their strict marble balconies and blazons reflect the peach, orange and pink of the clouds, creating new colors that blend with the environment.

After a walk like this, coffee is usually a good idea. Being invited for a coffee at some friends’ house recently, we had homemade semolina halva, served in an old-fashioned plate and sprinkled with cinnamon…

This vintage dessert, reminded me of long gone Sunday family gatherings in Athens, which started in September, making the transition to school and to city life easier. My aunt Eleni would always bring a Tupperware Jello mold with her famous semolina Halva: All the grown ups were crazy about it; they complimented Eleni about the Halva in a loud Greek way, and back then, I couldn’t understand it. Why would someone choose a Halva when there was chocolate on the table? Now, being grown up myself, I appreciate the delicate aromas and the grainy texture of a good homemade halva.

Even though halvas is considered more of a Lenten dessert in Greece, I think its serving temperature and colours make it the perfect treat for a September afternoon… So, here it is, -in Autumn reverie- , a semolina halva recipe. Enjoy!


Semolina Halva recipe

1, 2, 3, 4 Go : )

1 cup of olive oil or sunflower oil or butter

(or a combination of those according to your preference)

2 cups of coarse semolina

3 cups of sugar

4 cups of water

one cinnamon stick

2 or 3 clove sticks

peel of a lemon

row, skinned almonds or raisins (optional)

grounded cinnamon to sprinkle


In a saucepan, combine the water, sugar, cinnamon stick, cloves and lemon peel. Bring to the boil for 10 minutes, then lower the heat and simmer gently for another 5 minutes until the syrup forms bubbles. Remove the cinnamon stick, cloves and lemon peel.

Heat the oil in a large, thick-bottomed pot over medium heat; then add the coarse semolina and the almonds and cook, stirring continuously using a wooden spoon to prevent the mixture from sticking to the pot. Continue for a few minutes, until the semolina begins to take a golden colour.

Lower the heat and start to gradually pour the hot syrup to the semolina mixture; carefully because it bubbles! Stirring continuously, cook until the semolina absorbs the syrup and you get a thick mixture that pulls away from the sides and the bottom of the pot when you stir.

Remove from the heat, cover the pot with a kitchen towel and let it cool for 10 minutes, then place the mixture in a mold and allow it to cool to room temperature. Unmold and sprinkle with cinnamon before serving.


Thank you Gely Giannousoglou for the recipe 


photos by christos drazos

words by maria alipranti