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Afghan Semolina Halwa Recipe

Halwa, meaning “sweet”, is typically made with butter, flour and sugar. It is made with vegetable oil, semolina flour, sugar and cardamom. The halwa has a texture similar to polenta and can be served on a plate or in a bowl or can be formed into bars. Be sure you use a very large pot because there is a lot of sizzling when the flour is added and splattering when the water is added.

This recipe is adapted from Afghan Culture Unveiled Halwa Recipe.

Prep: 5 minutes | Cook: 35 minutes | Serves: 8-10

Afghanistan food


  • 3 cups sugar
  • 6 cups boiling hot water
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
  • 4 cups semolina flour
  • 2 teaspoons ground cardamom


  1. Preheat oven to 300°F
  2. In a large bowl, mix sugar with boiling water and stir until dissolved. Set aside.
  3. In a large, preferably nonstick pot with a fitted lid (be sure your nonstick cookware is oven safe), heat the oil on high heat. The oil is ready when a pinch of flour sizzles. Add the flour and stir continuously for 10 minutes or until golden. Be sure the mixture does not burn. Remove the pot from the stove and put it in the sink.
  4. Slowly add half the sugar mixture to the pot, being careful that it doesn’t splatter on you. Stir quickly and return to the stove. Set over medium heat and add the rest of the sugar mixture while stirring continuously for 2 minutes until halwa thickened. Reduce temperature to medium- low and add cardamom. Stir continuously for 3-4 minutes until it turns a darker shade of brown.
  5. Wrap aluminum foil around the lid and set it on top of the pot. The aluminum foil will insure a tight seal as the halwa continues to cook. Place the pot in the oven and cook for another 20 minutes. Serve with pieces of pita bread.

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