This is a very old fashioned and loved pudding made with common ingredients which existed, and still do, in every household in a Greek and Cypriot home. Halva is often prepared during Greek Orthodox Lent using olive or vegetable oil, semolina, syrup, and flavoured with mystic gum, rosewater and cinnamon.

1 small orange
150ml olive oil
2 cups course semolina
3 cups sugar
4 cups water
1/2 tsp ground mastic gum, optional or vanilla extract
2 tbsp. rosewater

For topping & decoration:
Ground cinnamon
Chopped pistachio nuts
Chopped almonds or walnuts

First boil the orange for approximately 50 minutes to an hour, or until soft. Cool the orange, cut into small pieces and blend in a food processor until smooth.
Place the sugar in a saucepan with the water and bring to the boil, simmer for 5 minutes, then remove from the heat and allow to cool a little while you prepare the semolina.
Place the oil in a large, deep, heavy bottom saucepan over a medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the semolina, stirring continuously until it becomes light brown and taking care that it doesn’t burn. The semolina will smell fabulous when ready.
Gradually start adding and stirring the syrup into the semolina – take care as the semolina will bubble and splash.
Mix the blended orange with the ground mastic gum and rosewater, constantly stirring with a large wooden spoon over a low heat until the liquid has been absorbed, thickened and comes away from the sides of the saucepan. Then remove from the heat.
Spoon the mixture into a 1.5 litre (2 ½ pints) fluted mould ring, flatten the top with the back of a spoon and allow to cool completely.
Loosen the Halva using a knife around the edges, and turn out of the mould onto a large plate.
Drizzle with a little honey, dust with cinnamon and decorate with chopped pistachios and almonds.

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