Adafina: The Classic Sephardic Sabbath Stew

adafina finished- resized

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.

Adafina Ingredients


Preheat oven to 175°.

Combine the meatball ingredients using your hands.

Form meatballs. Roll them in flour 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


The Converso Cookbook

by Ana M. Gómez-Bravo


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
6 carrots
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 egg
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

Further reading:

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.

Sephardic Studies

Explore Sephardic history and culture more at the Stroum Center’s Sephardic Studies Program page.

By |2018-08-26T20:41:49+00:00October 11th, 2014|Categories: Converso Cookbook|14 Comments

About the Author:

Professor Gómez-Bravo received her Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley. Her main research areas are medieval and early modern Spanish literature, rhetoric and poetics, and theories of ethnic and gender difference. Professor Gómez-Bravo has received grants and fellowships from the following sources: National Endowment for the Humanities, American Philosophical Society, Program for Cultural Cooperation between Spain and US Universities, Purdue University, and UC Berkeley. Her work has appeared in Rhetorica, Hispanic Review, Romance Philology, Bulletin of Hispanic Studies, Hispania and La Corónica, among others.


  1. Estelle Benozilio 11/10/2014 at 5:45 pm - Reply

    My mother use to make a dish similar to yours which was called chumleck (in Ladino I think).

  2. […] essay, and part history lesson. Recipes for Jewish Ham: Cured Goose, Almodrote: Spicy Eggplant, and Adafina: Sabbath Stew can be found alongside blog posts explaining the story behind each recipe, based on […]

  3. Regina 11/26/2014 at 10:24 pm - Reply

    Could you make this in a crock pot?

  4. Alicia Sisso Raz 11/27/2014 at 5:04 am - Reply

    The Moroccan Jews continue making Adafina for Shabbat. We still call it Adafina! The ingredients are similar, but the carrot and the celery. We cook it overnight and it is the traditional almuerzo (lunch) for Shabbat until present time.

  5. Marcia Fine 11/27/2014 at 12:43 pm - Reply

    I’m so impressed with what you’ve done! I an writing my second novel about Sephardim and of course, food is a major part of their lives. I’m glad to have another resource to recommend when I speak about THE BLIND EYE: A Sephardic Journey. Many people are not familiar with how different this culture is from Ashkenazi. Also, many died because of the recipes they made when the Inquisition hunted them for almost 400 years. Thank you for adding research and clarity.

  6. Manolo "Ël Malo" 11/28/2014 at 6:53 am - Reply

    Madre mia nos has traido gran felicidad con tus recetas gracias

  7. Jackie Gamble 11/28/2014 at 12:59 pm - Reply

    I’m looking forward to trying this this winter. How are the eggs incorporated into the dish? Cracked into the ingredients in the baking dish? Left in the shell? Thank you!

  8. Marina Pinto Kaufman 11/28/2014 at 2:21 pm - Reply

    I don’t see the eggs . As children that was the part we liked the most! Like mashed potatoes and mashed eggs!
    Also there was the “Orissa de trigo” most Shabbats sweet and delicious!!!

  9. Marina Pinto Kaufman 11/28/2014 at 2:23 pm - Reply

    Sorry I meant the potatoes….which were brown from so many hours of cooking and slightly sweet

  10. Beverley 12/27/2014 at 8:35 am - Reply

    I cooked a vegetarian version of this using Quorn ‘chicken fillets’ and ‘meatballs’ in a slow-cooker, and it turned out brilliantly. I added a kosher stock cube as the meat flavour was missing. Thank you so much for posting these wonderful recipes and the stories behind them. Sephardi and proud in the UK!

  11. rgoldstand 1/12/2015 at 1:08 pm - Reply

    I thought dafina contains honey as well – anyone care to comment on that?

  12. Jenny Thielemann 6/1/2016 at 8:18 am - Reply

    How many servings is this? Also, it would be more helpful to have specific ingredient amounts to then adjust up or down from.

  13. Fortuna Toledo Friedman 12/18/2016 at 1:53 pm - Reply

    thank you,thank you.It feels like going home

  14. Rifka Cook 2/26/2019 at 3:41 am - Reply

    Your work is amazing! thanks a lot for sharing! I am doing a research on Culinary Traditions of the Crypto Jews, and you, without knowing, are helping me a lot. Thanks!

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