Serving the Guest: A Sufi Cookbook
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The offer of food and hospitality declares that "We, O noble guests, are in true harmony with you."
Irmik Helvasi or Halvah Sooji
Semolina Halvah
Total time: 1-½ hours
½ cup (1 stick) sweet butter
2 cups semolina flour
1 cup coarsely chopped almonds or pine nuts
4 cups milk
1 cup light brown sugar
½ tsp. cardamom
½ cup raisins
¼ cup flaked unsweetened coconut
¼ cup lightly toasted unsweetened coconut flakes, or
¼ cup poppy seeds

In a heavy saucepan, melt the butter over low heat; do not allow it to brown. Stir in the semolina and nuts; continue to stir for 5-10 minutes, until the mixture is lightly toasted, then add the coconut. In a separate pan, combine the milk, sugar, cardamom and raisins. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Pour this syrup into the pan with the semolina and combine thoroughly. Stir constantly for several minutes until the syrup is absorbed.

The halvah may be served warm and soft, like a pudding. It may also be cooked a little longer until it is dense; then, turn off the heat, cover the pot, place a dishtowel between the pan and the cover, and let it sit for 30 minutes. Turn the halvah into a large baking pan, smooth it out, allow it to set, then cut it into pieces. Either way, the halvah may be garnished with poppy seeds or lightly toasted coconut flakes.