Modern milling of wheat into flour is a system that employs grooved steel rollers. The rollers are adjusted so that the space between them is slightly narrower than the width of the wheat kernels. As the wheat is fed into the mill, the rollers flake off the bran and germ and the starch or endosperm is cracked into coarse pieces in the process. Through sifting, these particles are separated from the bran and this is semolina. The semolina is then ground into flour. This process greatly simplifies the process of separating the endosperm from the bran and germ, as well as making it possible to separate the endosperm into different grades due to the fact that the inner part of the endosperm tends to break down into smaller pieces than the outer part. Different grades of flour can be thus produced.
There are two main types of semolina sold on the general market. Durum semolina, made from hard wheat, and soft wheat semolina, also known as farina or by the trade name Cream of Wheat, 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 or Ravey. In Turkey, Semolina is known as İrmik.
Semolina made from durum wheat or other hard wheats (that are easier to grow than durum) is yellow in color. 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 couscous (North Africa), and bulgur (Turkey and the Levant). Couscous is made by mixing roughly 2 parts semolina with 1 part durum flour.
Semolina from softer types of wheats is almost white in color. In the United States it has come to be known by the trade name cream of Wheat. The particles of are fairly coarse, between 0.25 and 0.75 millimetres in diameter. When boiled, it turns into a soft, mushy porridge. This semolina is popular in North Western Europe and North America as a dessert, boiled with milk, and sweetened called semolina pudding. It is often flavored with vanilla and served with jam. In Sweden, it is eaten as breakfast porridge, sometimes mixed with raisins and served with milk.
More broadly speaking, meal produced 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 baking surface to prevent sticking. In bread making, a small proportion of durum semolina added to the usual mix of flour produces a tasty crust.