CHOLENT (Shulent; Yid. Tsholnt; Heb. Ḥamin), stew, traditionally prepared on Friday and placed in the oven before the Sabbath begins, to cook overnight and be eaten at Saturday lunch. Since cooking or heating food is forbidden by the halakhah on the Sabbath, such a process is necessary in order to have something hot to eat for the Sabbath morning meal, and thus the dish is common to Jewish communities throughout the world, but is known under various names. Among Ashkenazim it is called cholent or shulent (possibly from the French chaud lent or from the Yiddish shul ende, i.e., end of the Saturday synagogue service) and in parts of North Africa, dafina and also shaḥine. The Hebrew name ḥamin means "hot."
The basic ingredients of cholent are stewing cuts of meat, with or without bones, and pulses, plus other ingredients which are not spoiled by long, slow cooking. Ashkenazi Jews prepare the dish with fat beef, bones, barley, beans, potatoes, and onions, and season it with paprika. In Eastern Europe, the dish was often taken to the baker's, to cook in his oven, and be taken home in the morning. Most Sephardi Jews use mutton instead of beef, and rice instead of barley; Syrian Jews place the mixture inside a hollowed-out piece of pumpkin or squash. Iraqis use a whole chicken instead of meat, which they stuff with fried rice and the chopped gizzards of the bird, and season with cardamon seed and mint leaves. Afghan Jews also use chicken, to which apart from the standard rice, carrots, and onions, they add rose-leaves, cinnamon, and quinces. Other Sephardi and North African spices included are whole, sharp, red peppers, saffron (or turmeric), and coriander; the Sephardim and North Africans often add chickpeas to the mixture and the North Africans throw in a handful of cracked wheat (kamḥ). All communities use extra oil or fat, and sometimes add eggs and stuffed intestines or chicken-neck skin. In Turkish and North African communities, the eggs are often placed in the stew in their shells, to be hard-boiled overnight, in which case they are called ḥamindas. In all communities, cholent is often baked with a dumpling or savory pudding (kugl).
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.