Month of July: “Purple Citrus Sweet Perfume” Recipe: Saffron and Pistachio Helva

A helva is a sweet semolina Ottoman dessert recipe centuries old, like fifteenth century old. Nowadays it is made on religious events or births or deaths.

It’s funny how this cooking experiment brings up such corresponding insights. I feel like I have been grieving for centuries. Not just about Abby but about so many things in my life. I am tired of carrying this heaviness. Even in writing this my stomach feels heavy from the sweet semolina. Yet surprisingly I never seem to give up hope that one day I can release the hold it has on my heart. I try. Lord knows I try.

Ingredients: 2 cups milk, 1/2 teaspoon saffron threads, 1 cup sugar, 6 tablespoons of butter, 1 scant cup of semolina, 3/4 cup lightly roasted and ground pistachios.

  1. Heat 2 tablespoons of milk and add saffron and let soak for 30 minutes.
  2. Stir sugar into remaining milk over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Keep warm. In a separate saucepan melt the butter, add the semolina and stirring constantly over low heat for 20-25 minutes watch for semolina to brown.
  3. Stir the saffron infused milk into the warm sugar milk mixture and add to the semolina stirring vigorously. Add a little at a time to get the right pudding like consistency. Turn off the heat and let stand for 15 minutes covered in a warm area.
  4. Serve at room temperature with sprinkled pistachios and garnish with a few saffron threads.

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