HALVA Recipe | Mourning Traditions | How Food Helps Us Cope with Loss l 5 Stages of Grief


Hello everyone! Three and a half weeks after the earthquake, we are back in our kitchen. Turkiye has faced maybe one of the biggest catastrophes of last century, in which we have officially lost more than 40K country citizen. (Predicted number of total deaths in this event might be above 300K.) We managed the emergency phase by cooking long-lasting nutritious disaster food in Bahcesehir University Gastronomy & Culinary Arts Faculty kitchens together with many beautiful people, missionary chefs. Many dedicated volunteers worked with us with full effort to help us ease this process for everyone. We, as a team, are aware that there is a long road to take for a relief in its fullest sense but we are going to keep doing what we have to do, what we can do. So, with all these in mind, you must know that YOUR SUPPORT is so VALUABLE to us, to our country… We are grateful for all your good-wish messages, comments, condolence mails, and donations to our campaign… They give us all the POWER and RESILIENCE to KEEP GOING!

As we are going back to our post apocalyptic “normal” lives, the first video I’ll share with you is about SEMOLINA HALVA and its cultural significance, how food helps us cope with loss, and five stages of grief. Different cultures have their own way of following traditions. This is our way to say goodbye to our loved ones: HELVA. When we bury someone we love one of the youngsters from the family starts cooking helva for the guests. Helva means PATIENCE because you need to keep stirring this semolina mixture for 50 minutes cooking when it is made in bigger portions. In this case, it will take about 20-25 minutes for its color to change from golden yellow to milky coffee brown. Meanwhile, everyone gathers around him/her and give their condolences to the family. When helva is ready, those who came for giving their condolences come together for praying. Youngsters distribute the helva to the guests. All these things happen in a rush.This is a way of acceptance for the loss by sharing the pain and keeping the hope for life.


Semolina Helva

Servings: 16-20
Difficulty: Easy
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 50 minutes

200g butter
2 handfuls of pine nuts
3 cups of semolina, 600g, use coarse semolina
3 cloves
1/2 tsps of cinnamon
a pinch of salt

For sherbet (syrup):

2 cups + 2 tbsps of sugar, 510gr
3 cups of milk, 750ml
2,5 cups of water, 625ml

Mix butter and pine nuts in a large pot and roast the pine nuts on the lowest heat by stirring.
To make sherbet, place sugar, milk and water in a saucepan and stir slowly until it boils.
When the pine nuts turn light brown, add semolina and keep stirring. It can take about 20-25 minutes. Keep it on the lowest heat and a small burner. When the helva starts to smell nice, and the color gets light brown, add cloves, cinnamon and salt while stirring.
Pour the sherbet in the semolina slowly and stir to get all the ingredients combine well.
Turn off the heat and put the lid on. Let the helva rest for about 20-25 minutes.
When semolina soaks all the sherbet up, it’s ready to serve!

**Serving tip: You can serve it with some cinnamon on top and/or plain ice cream.

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