Semolina is the inner, granular, starchy endosperm of wheat (not yet ground into flour). There are two main types of semolina. Durum semolina, made from hard wheat, is used to make pasta and couscous. Soft wheat semolina, also known as farina or by the trade name Cream of Wheat, is used as a hot breakfast cereal and for desserts such as semolina milk pudding.
In North India, semolina is known as suji; in South India, rava.
Semolina made from durum wheat or other hard wheats (that are easier to grow than durum) is quite yellow in colour. It is usually prepared with the main dish, either boiled with water into a pasty substance, e.g. as gnocchi (in Italy), or as the basis for dried products such as pasta (Italy) which is made from finely ground semolina (sometimes called semolina flour), couscous (North Africa), and bulgur (Turkey and the Levant). Couscous is made by mixing roughly 2 parts semolina with 1 part durum flour (finely ground semolina a.k.a. semolina flour).
Semolina from softer types of wheat (usually steel-cut) is almost white in colour. The particles are fairly coarse, between 0.25 and 0.75 millimetres in diameter. When boiled, it turns into a soft, mushy pudding. This semolina is popular in North Western Europe and North America as a dessert, boiled with milk, and sweetened. It is often flavoured with vanilla and served with jam.
More broadly speaking, meal ground from other grains may also be referred to as semolina, e.g. rice semolina, or corn semolina (more commonly known as grits in the U.S.)
In South India, semolina is used to make such delicacies as rava dosa and upma, as well as sweets such as suji halwa. A popular dessert in Greece ("Halvas"), Cyprus ("Halouvas"), Turkey ("Helva"), Iran ("Halva"), and by Arab countries ("Halwa") is sometimes made with semolina scorched with sugar, butter, milk and pine nuts. In some cultures, it is served at funerals, during special celebrations or as a religious offering. In much of North Africa and the Middle East, durum semolina is made into the staple couscous.
Semolina can be used as an alternative to corn meal to flour the underside of fresh pizza dough to prevent it from sticking to the pan. In bread making, a small proportion of durum semolina added to the usual mix of flour produces a tasty crust.