Cholent is the Yiddish word for the stew traditionally served on Sabbath mornings in Jewish homes. Most Jewish communities throughout the world had their own version, using local ingredients. Before people had their own ovens, they brought the cholent to the communal oven on Friday afternoon. There, it would cook overnight, because starting the cooking is forbidden from sunset on Friday.
Cholent generally includes small amounts of poultry or cubed meat, and some recipes originating in North Africa include whole eggs in the shell. The key to making a long cooking stew is to include lots of flavorful ingredients.
My son, who recently become vegan, has been making vegan cholent whenever he comes home for the weekend. It has a few surprise, like mushrooms and date syrup or tea. Cholent is very flexible, so don’t be afraid to omit or substitute ingredients. Make sure to add enough water, so it doesn’t dry out during the long cooking period.
- 2 large onions
- 1/4 cup oil
- 1/2 cup barley
- 1/2 cup kidney beans, soaked
- 1/2 cup small white beans, soaked
- 1/2 cup brown lentils
- 5-6 potatoes, peeled and halved
- 2-3 carrots, peeled and halved
- head of garlic, sliced in half
- 4-5 champignon mushrooms, chopped coarsely
- 2 stalks celery (optional)
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 3 tablespoons silan (date syrup) or a cup of strong tea, for color
- 2 dried bay leaves
- A layer of dried canneloni pasta (optional)
- Chop the onions coarsely and fry in a large pot with the 1/4 cup oil.
- Take off any loose peel from the halves of the garlic head, but keep the cloves together.
- Layer the vegetables, mushrooms, and legumes on top of the onions.
- Add date syrup or tea.
- In a bowl, mix the spices with a half cup of water, add to the pot, and stir.
- Add a layer of noodles, if used.
- Add enough water to reach 3-4 centimeters (1-2 inches) above the other ingredients.
- Cover, bring to a boil, and cook on low heat for an hour.
- Place in an oven set at 110 degrees C. (225 F.) for 12-20 hours. You can also set it on a electric hotplate. To make in a slow cooker, set on low.
- After cooking, some liquid should remain.
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