What is this dish called Hamin? or is it Cholent? Well, it is both. The Sephardic jews call it Hamin and Ashkenazie jews call it Cholent and it's basically a jewish stew. But not just any stew. This is a special stew. It is lovingly cooked for many many hours, often overnight. All the flavors come together as one and the meat just falls off the fork. The best part is that it is cooked in one pot so there is not much clean up!
The idea is that you start cooking it on Friday before Shabbat (The Sabbath) begins and leave it to cook until lunchtime on Shabbat! This dish was developed over the centuries to conform with Jewish laws that prohibit cooking on the Sabbath. Observant jews would cook and simmer it overnight on the lowest setting on a stove or hot plate, sometimes also in an oven. This was commonly eaten for lunch on Shabbat.
Hamin or Cholent originated in ancient Judea, possibly as far back as the Second Temple Period, and over the centuries various Jewish communities created their own variations of the dish. Ashkenazi and Sephardic versions differ in the ingredients used.
The basic ingredients of cholent/Hamin are meat, potatoes, beans and barley. Sephardi-style hamin often uses rice and chickpeas instead of beans and barley, and chicken instead of beef. A traditional Sephardi addition is whole eggs in the shell, which turn brown overnight, a delicious flavor is created with this method of cooking hard boiled eggs.
I come from a mixed Jewish background. My mother was a Czechoslovakian (now known as Slovakia) jew and my father was an Egyptian jew. My grandfather on one side was Moroccan and my grandmother on the other side was Hungarian. So my mother made a Hamin/Cholent that was a mix of both traditions. I think this contributed to the most delicious version possible! Nothing will ever taste quite like my mother's Cholent.
Before we start I will tell you that you don't have to let it cook overnight if you prefer not to.
Start it in the morning and cook it for about 5-6 hours on very low heat and you will get great results. And needless to say you don't have to cook it only on Shabbat. So give this amazing cold weather dish a try and you'll get hooked.
Ingredients you'll need: (All spices can be adjusted to taste. This will serve about 3-4 people, double the quantities to serve more.)
1 ½ lbs of lean stewing beef cut into large cubes. I used Angus stewing beef and it was amazing. I actually found kosher Angus stewing beef at Trader Joe's but of course any beef is fine.
1 large onion sliced coarsely
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
2-3 large potatoes peeled and cut into 4 quarters
6 small - medium carrots, peeled and cut into thick rounds.
6 eggs, hard boiled for 10 minutes
Osem chicken flavored soup mix (see link at bottom of page or you can usually find this in the International isle of your supermarket) if you don't have any soup mix add 1 teaspoon of salt or to your taste.
3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
½ teaspoon turmeric
3/4 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon cumin
15oz red dried kidney beans soaked for 2 ours and rinsed or a can
15oz dried chickpeas soaked for 2 hours and rinsed or a can
3 tablespoons olive oil or canola oil
water to cover pot
1 large wide pot
Heat oil in pot and fry onions until translucent. Add all dry spices, stir and fry together for 2 minutes. Add crushed garlic and mix. Be careful not to burn the garlic, this happens quickly.
Add potatoes and stir. If you are using dried beans and chickpeas add now and stir. If you are using canned you will be adding this at the end. Add beef and stir until browned on all sides.
Add carrots and stir into mix.
Mix gently with a wooden spoon. Add eggs in their shells. Cover with water to the top of the mixture and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer on the lowest setting of your stove or place in oven if you prefer on same setting. I like to check often and taste the sauce that the dish creates once my meat is cooked and I find it easier if it's cooking stove top.
Continue cooking for 5-6 hours on low, stirring gently every 30 minutes and making sure all the water is not completely absorbed. The juices will reduce over time and that's how it should be. Your Cholent will have a little sauce at the Botton, about 1 inch high when it is done. This is the time to add your canned items if you are using them. Simmer for half an hour more.
Remove eggs at this time and peel them, return them to the pot lowering them gently with a large spoon and continue cooking for 30 more minutes.
You don't need to serve anything else with this delightful comfort dinner other than maybe a slice of Challah? That's what we did. See link below for my amazing challah recipe.
Enjoy, Bon appétit and Bete'avon! בְּתֵאָבוֹן