Slavic Semolina Desserts

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Semolina is a good source of protein, fiber and energy-boosting carbohydrates, which Slavs have treasured dearly for centuries. It’s derived from the process of milling durum wheat, which is one of the hardest types of wheat crops. Durum is cultivated in numerous countries, with Europe taking the lead as the biggest producer of semolina on Earth. Russia alone was one of the top producers in the first half of the previous century.

As such, it should come to no surprise that Slavs have found various ways to incorporate semolina in their meals. Even though it’s sometimes used for the preparation of savory foods, its applications in desserts are unsurpassed. Semolina desserts are famous all over the globe, not just on Slavic territory, but most Slavs surely do remember the following goodies from their childhood years.

Manka/ Mannaya kasha

The mannaya kasha, also known as manka, is a porridge every born-and-bred Russian has tasted at least once in his/ her lifetime. Preparing it is super easy – all you have to do is keep stirring the milk over the stove until the semolina thickens up. That’s actually the basis of most semolina desserts, but Russians have a way of making it unforgettable due to its creamy smoothness. If you truly want to boost the flavor of the mannaya kasha, you can always opt for jam – your babushka has lots of it stored in the pantry.

Full recipe: here

Gris halwa

While being under Ottoman rule Bulgarian cooks have managed to pick up some tips and tricks from Turkish cuisine, which is famous for being rich in all sorts of flavors. And although semolina is far from being the most flavorful ingredient on the planet, the Turkish-inspired gris halwa has been a popular dessert among Bulgarians for centuries. Unlike the porridge, this semolina dessert is thick and grainy – just the semolina itself. The key secret to preparing it and acing its texture is the frying pan – instead of boiled, the semolina needs to be stir fried. The finishing touch usually consists of sprinkled cinnamon with a handful of walnuts or almonds.

Full recipe: here

Krupicová kaše

If you love chocolate (don’t we all?), then you’ll love the simplicity of the Czech krupicová kaše – a chocolaty porridge made with semolina and milk. Similarly to the Russian manka, this dessert requires a lot of stirring. But don’t worry – your efforts will be rewarded because the traditional krupicová kaše is garnished with a hearty amount of sweetened melted butter, cinnamon, cocoa and cholate shavings. Now who can say no to that delicious treat?

Full recipe: here

Griş cu lapte

Most Romanian kids have grown up with the taste of griş cu lapte – meaning, semolina and milk. In Romania the store bought variations of this dessert are often garnished with jam – peach, cherry or berry. Soft and creamy, it’s served cold and eaten all year round. Due to the widespread availability of semolina you can kick this Romanian dessert up a notch by adding some citrus zest (to balance the extra sweetness), additional fruits, burned sugar or vanilla bean paste to it.

Full recipe: here


Last, but not least, comes the povidlyanka, which isn’t exactly endemic to Ukraine, but originated there. Povidlyanka is a dessert that is quite close to a choux pastry, only this one is made out of semolina instead of flour. The final stage of preparation does require baking, of course, but the results are absolutely finger-licking. The authentic povidlyanka taste is achieved by adding alcohol spirits – traditionally rum, which can be replaced by brandy or sweetened liquor of choice. It may seem a bit finicky compared to the rest of these Slavic desserts, but you don’t need a Master’s in Culinary Arts to prepare this heavenly goodness.

Full recipe: here

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