Shorashim - Hebrew for "Roots"
Shorashim - Hebrew for "Roots"

Cholent

A Slow-Cooked Shabbat Stew

Start cooking before Shabbat, so no work needs to be done

Cholent is a slow-cooked Jewish stew, and is the traditional Sabbath midday meal. Its origins go all the way back to the time of the Talmud and would take us on a journey across many cultures, nations and centuries throughout the Jewish Diaspora.


As such, recipes are as infinitely variable and based on what's available to the cook with many different combinations of meat, beans, vegetables, grains and herbs.

 

Also, in different countries, it's known by various different names, such as hamin (Aramaic for "warm", and Hebrew for "hot").

 

Kay Kantor Pomerantz, has written three books on the history of cholent (with many recipes included, of course). About cholent, he says, "It touches the heart of every Jew because it's part of our tradition. Everyone has a cholent story tucked inside."

 

Why has cholent developed the way it has?:
So, why has cholent developed the way it has? Ultimately, it is because the Bible instructs us to, "... kindle no fire throughout your habitations upon the Sabbath day." (Exodus 35:3), and also cooking is listed among the 39 categories of creative work not allowed on Shabbat.

 

As such, the Jewish people have developed a tantalisingly tasty recipe for a good hot meal that can be eaten on Shabbat because it is slow cooked – with the fire being made, and food being prepared before the Shabbat starts.

 

Our recipe:
Follow the recipe below (and add your own touch to make it your own) and you too can experience the blessing of a hot Shabbat meal, as well as the "Sabbath delight" as described by Isaiah (Isaiah 58:13).

 

Ingredients (Serves 4):
As well as your own imagination, you can include the following...

 

  • 1-2 lbs. of stew meat - beef, chicken or lamb
  • 1-2 cans of beans (any type)
  • 2-3 medium potatoes or sweet potatoes
  • 2-3 handfuls of mushrooms
  • 2-3 large carrots
  • 1 cup of barley
  • 1/2 of a large onion
  • 2-3 cloves fresh garlic
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1-2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • Water (you will have to eyeball this measurement)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Flour (optional to thicken)
  • Crock Pot and liner, or a regular oven

 

Directions:

  • Chop your vegetables - the smaller you chop them, the more likely they will be to disintegrate into your stew, which is okay, but better served a bit chunky!
  • If you're going to use a Crock Pot, make sure you use a liner so it will be easier to clean.
  • Add the meat and vegetables and mix them together.
  • Add the bay leaf and any other seasonings to taste.
  • Pour enough water into the pot to almost cover your meat and vegetables.
  • Set the Crock Pot, or preheat the oven to 200 Fahrenheit (95 Celsius) and cook for 8 or 10 hours.
  • The Crock Pot should be set to switch to "warm" when this time period is up.

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