Cholent

Cholent is the Yiddish word for Hamim, the traditional Jewish stew that is simmered overnight for over twelve hours so that it can be eaten on Sabbath, the Jewish day of rest. The cholent recipe was developed over a long period of time and is in accordance with the age old Jewish custom which forbids cooking on the Sabbath. The pot of cholent is boiled the preceding day and kept warm by placing it on a hot plate or a slow cooker until it gets to be consumed on Saturday.

 

The cholent recipe has a number of variations. However, both the Ashkenazi as well as the Sephardi Jews prepare it according to the ancient traditions. A good amount of meat, potatoes, barley and beans go into the cholent. The Sephardi cuisine uses chicken instead of beef and substitutes rice for the beans and barley. Whole eggs in their shells are often added to the stew by the Sephardi Jews. The Ashkenazi variety of cholent, on the other hand, contains sausages in casings known as kishke or helzel. The slow method of cooking helps in the mingling of different flavors which gives the cholent its characteristic taste.

 

History Of Cholent Recipe
The writings of Rabbi Yitzhak speak of the Ashkenazi cholent eaten in Vienna. The Jews residing in Eastern Europe had put the raw ingredients required for making the stew into a pot which was then cooked on the oven of the local baker all through the night. The Jews of Morocco also followed a similar tradition with the stew being cooked slowly at the local bakery.

 

Ingredients And Popular Cholent Recipe
The ingredients used in preparing the cholent vary from cuisine to cuisine. The main variations of the stew differ considerably from each other with the Jews of Europe preferring their own method of cooking and the ones from the Middle East sticking to their own recipes.

 

• Ashkenazi Recipe- Beef, potatoes, beans and whole grains comprising barley, wheat or rice is usually cooked together in the form of a stew. While salt and pepper remain the traditional seasonings additional spices may be provided by paprika, tomatoes, carrots as well as a variety of sauces and ketchup. Some people also add whiskey or rum to the stew pot to enhance the flavor. However, it is the inclusion of small sausages that make the Ashkenazi recipe stand out from the others.
 

• Sephardi Recipe- The Jews from the Middle East prefer to use the Hebrew word, Hamim for the stew. The dish consists of chicken, potatoes and rice along with tomatoes, zucchini, green peppers and eggplants. The stew also contains chickpeas which act as a thickening agent. Cumin seeds and hot peppers are also used to spice the dish up.  Garlic, cinnamon and allspice are added to the stew by the Moroccan Jews.

 

Cholent: Trivia
The German poet Heinrich Heine has written a poem on the cholent.

 

Cholent Blogs

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