Adafina: The Classic Sephardic Sabbath Stew
Similar to cholent among Ashkenazi Jews, adafina was the hamin (savory stew) that Jews in Spain ate on the day of rest. It had to be prepared and put on the fire before sundown in order to comply with the precepts of the Sabbath/Shabbat and have a cooked meal ready to consume the next day.
The following recipe is based on the descriptions of adafinas that contain the more varied types of ingredients and that seem to have been the gold standard when those were available. Because Sephardic Jews before 1492 would have had access only to organic produce and pastured animals, I recommend that you find the best quality organic ingredients. They will make a difference in the taste of the adafina. I have to disagree with the Inquisition recordkeepers when identifying the dish’s most important or defining ingredient. From my point of view, that ingredient is time. The long slow-cooking method turns an ordinary one-pot meal into something exquisite. It transforms the other ingredients, making the broth clear and the meats, eggs and vegetables delicate and sublimely textured.
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, vegetables and eggs. Add water to generously cover the ingredients.
Bring to a boil on the stove. Cover and put into preheated oven. Cook for 12-15 hours.
At the end of the cooking period or before you retire for the night, add the spinach or chard.
Serve in individual bowls, placing a piece of each ingredient in each bowl and adding some of the delicious broth. Be ready for the raves!
Learn more about this dish by reading the Story Behind the Recipe.
Links for Further Exploration
- Sephardic Studies at the University of Washington – Explore more Sephardic history and culture through articles and digital artifacts at the Stroum Center’s Sephardic Studies Program page.
- JewishStudiesHUB – Explore our innovative blog page with fresh views on Jewish topics by UW faculty and students. You can also access video clips and view new media projects.
© Ana Gomez-Bravo, 2014
Quantities are suggested, but left up to individual preferences.
Half an organic chicken, quartered
1 grass-fed lamb shank
1 piece of grass-fed beef chuck meat, in one piece (about 1 pound)
4 organic beef marrowbones
organic, pasteurized eggs
2 onions with 1 clove stuck to each
4 celery stalks
several sprigs fresh cilantro or parsley
3 bay leaves
1 teaspoon ground caraway seeds, or to taste
1 teaspoon cumin seeds, or to taste
½ teaspoon dried cilantro, or to taste
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
fresh spinach leaves or chard
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
David M. Gitlitz and Linda Davidson. A Drizzle of Honey: The Lives and Recipes of Spain’s Secret Jews. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1999.
Santa María, Ramón. “Ritos y costumbres de los hebreos españoles.” Boletín de la Real Academia de la Historia 22 (1893): 181-188.
Explore Sephardic history and culture more at the Stroum Center’s Sephardic Studies Program page.