Citizens! 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! 🙂
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