Helva

Helva

İrmik helvası

By
From
Eat Istanbul
Serves
4
Photographer
David Loftus

There are many different types of helva made at home and commercially using flour, rice flour or semolina, different nuts, melted butter and a mixture of flavoured sugar syrups or honey. This is the simplest and most popular version made today in Turkish homes (and throughout the Balkans and Arab world) for immediate consumption. It is also often served at festive occasions and funerals, kneaded into balls and dusted with icing sugar. In the Ottoman period, special copper helva dishes with domed covers punctured with holes to let the steam out were used so it did not become soggy as it was transported to picnics and banquets. If you visit the Topkapi Palace, you’ll see the special kitchen used just to prepare the vast quantities of helva needed on a daily basis.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
140g unsalted butter
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for greasing
280g fine semolina
50g flaked almonds, finely chopped
50g pine nuts

Syrup

Quantity Ingredient
2 oranges, juiced
300g granulated sugar
1 cinnamon stick
1 long pared strip orange zest
1 tablespoon whole cloves

To serve

Quantity Ingredient
1 pomegranate, seeds
ground cinnamon

Equipment

Quantity Ingredient
4 x 200ml dariole moulds or ramekins

Method

  1. For the syrup, put 300ml water, the orange juice and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to the boil. Add the cinnamon stick, orange zest and cloves. Reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Leave the syrup to cool for 5–10 minutes. Drain the syrup through a sieve and into a jug and discard the cinnamon stick, orange zest and cloves. You should have about 250ml syrup.
  2. Heat the butter and olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the semolina, almonds and pine nuts and cook over low heat, stirring continuously, for about 20 minutes until the mixture begins to turn golden, being careful not to burn it. Remove the pan from the heat.
  3. Carefully pour two-thirds of the syrup over the semolina mixture, stirring with a wooden spoon. Cover with a tea towel and leave it for 10 minutes to allow the syrup to soak in.
  4. Lightly grease the dariole moulds or ramekins with olive oil. Spoon the mixture into the moulds and leave to cool for at least 10 minutes.
  5. To serve, run a small, sharp, flexible knife around the edge of each mould and invert them onto plates. Drizzle with the remaining syrup, scatter the pomegranate seeds over and sprinkle with a little ground cinnamon.
Tags:
Istanbul
Turkey
Turkish food
Middle Eastern
Andy Harris
David Loftus
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