Adafina is the traditional Sephardi Jewish Shabbat meal from Medieval Spain, a meat, greens and chickpea stew left to cook on a Friday afternoon in a sealed pot and cracked open for Shabbat (Saturday) lunch. Since work is forbidden on the Sabbath to observant Jews, it was critical to have a meal that involved no actual preparation from Friday sundown until Saturday sundown.
Most American Jews are Ashkenazi (Eastern European) and are familiar with Cholent, a Shabbat meat stew that is very different from the spiced and delicate flavors of Adafina.
The origins of the word “adafina” are not precisely known. The most accepted interpretation is that it comes from the Spanish Arabic word addafína, which derives from the Classical Arabic word dafīnah meaning ‘hidden’ or ‘buried.’
This makes sense since the adafina had to cook overnight on the hearth without further intervention; it was covered in the embers or set under an iron pot filled with glowing coals and left to slow-cook until the time for the meal came on Saturday. Sephardic Jews in Morocco still prepare their adafinas in this way.
Some recipes call for meatballs in addition to the usual combination of chicken, lamb and beef – others call for a rice or bread dumpling. I provide optional recipes for each, and feel free to use them all if you’re so inclined! 🙂
You don’t have to be Jewish or Sephardi to enjoy this delicious long-cooked stew – I urge you to try it for yourselves, Citizens! 🙂
Battle on – The Generalissimo
3 chicken breasts, bone-in
1 grass-fed lamb shank, cut into pieces by butcher
1 piece of grass-fed beef chuck meat, in one piece (about 1 pound)
4 beef marrowbones, cut in ½ by butcher
6 eggs (I like duck eggs, but chicken eggs are traditional)
Dried chickpeas to taste
3 halved onions with 1 clove stuck in each half
6 peeled garlic cloves
6 large potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
6 peeled carrots, preferably rainbow carrots, cut into pieces
6 celery stalks, cut into pieces
Several sprigs fresh cilantro or parsley
3 bay leaves
1 teaspoon ground caraway seeds, or to taste
½ teaspoon ground turmeric *or* 8 saffron threads, crumbled
1 teaspoon ground cumin seeds, or to taste
1 teaspoon ground coriander seeds, or to taste
1 teaspoon ground black peppercorns
fresh Spinach, Kale or Chard leaves
If adding meatballs:
1 pound organic ground beef or a mixture or beef and chicken
2 minced garlic cloves or to taste
2 tablespoons minced parsley
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
Kouclas bi Khobz
Moroccan Bread Dumpling
1 cup bread crumbs
1 large yellow onion, chopped (about 3/4 cup)
3 large eggs
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
Salt to taste
Kouclas bi Ruz
Moroccan Rice Dumpling
1 cup rice
4 ounces ground lamb or beef
1/2 cup ground walnuts
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground mace
1 teaspoon grated nutmeg
About 1/2 teaspoon salt
Ground black pepper to taste
Soak the chickpeas in a bowl of water over night to soften. The following day, drain and set aside.
Preheat oven to 175°.
Combine the meatball ingredients using your hands.
Form meatballs. Roll them in four and brown them in olive oil. Set aside.
In a wide heavy casserole dish, combine all the other ingredients, first arranging the meats and then adding the chickpeas, spices, herbs and vegetables. Place the kouclas (if using) in the center of the dafina and arrange the eggs around it. Add enough water to cover (The Food Dictator prefers to use chicken stock).
Bring to a boil, cover, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer, occasionally skimming the foam, for 1 hour.
Tightly cover the pot, place on a “blech” (a thin sheet of metal placed over the stove top) over low heat or in a 225-degree oven, and cook overnight. Or transfer to a slow crock-type cooker set on low to cook overnight.
Adafina is traditionally separated into different dishes before serving: the chickpeas and cooking liquid in one bowl, the eggs in a second, the potatoes in a third, the meat in a fourth, and the dumpling in a fifth.
At the end of the cooking period or before you retire for the night, add the spinach or chard.