Posted by: reuvenflamer | November 1, 2010

Tradition Can Include Nutrition

Jewish cultural  and the protocols  that come along with it can  be  thousands of years old. When a tradition involves food, the ingrained habits of dinner time are an especially treacherous  road to take an exit ramp from!  Eating  rituals  dictate timing, location, the manner, and even the speed in which you come to bring fork ( who said you must eat with a fork anyway?) to plate.

Thus they have a strong  gravitational force on practice, habit, and like all food, health. But they are not necessarily based on firm Jewish principles. So fellow Chassidim, take a second look at “ its tradition”.

One of the  strongest  foodie gestalt experience icon, is the Jewish Sabbath gourmet item of the Saturday lunch, called Cholent! This  traditional Jewish stew simmered  overnight, for 12 hours or more,  has developed over the centuries to conform with Jewish law that prohibits cooking on the Sabbath. (The pot is brought to boil on Friday before the Sabbath begins, and kept on a hotplate, slow  cooker or stove top until the following day). Alongside the rather new custom of Scotch whisky tasting klatches that seem to be popping all over the place, the cholent club is to  be found in Tasmania, to San Francisco, to Tashkent!


Nothing wrong about cholent. After all its Tradition!  But, add to the cholent pot of (excuse the pun) the particulars of the raw materials, and cholent takes on new meaning. And the gravity gets even more of force too deal with!

For the tradition can include Nutrition!

I say Combine Both, Mix Well, and you have a meal for for a Sabbath Queen!

Think New York and Jewish food, eventually you will  conjure up the boisterous cacophony of the “NY Deli”.

Corned beef. Matzah ball soup. Borscht. And the almost extinct gribenes ( this is the grandest of the Jewish menus – chicken fat stir fried with onions and traditionally spread on black bread, rye, or eaten alone by the spoonful! Oy vey!)


How did food habits that are a prescription for a certain early demise of the circulatory system evolve in the first place?

Jewish cooking developed with the help of  the cuisines of countries that Jews found themselves in! The Jews are the first to conform to “eating local”! Adapting  to their new host country, usually arriving quite hungry from the latest expulsion, they quickly learned their new local menu. Kosher Jewish food is as varied and global as Jewish geography is.

Jews of the Middle East cook with lots  of lemon, garlic, tomatoes, olive oil, cumin and turmeric, vegetables, rice, ginger, and saffron & chilies. Fruits, vegetables, spices, and grains were plentiful in the Mediterranean climate, and these healthy items  are used  heavily.

In contradistinction East European Jewish menu uses lots of meat and potatoes, knishes, kugels ( pasta noodles, eggs) cheese cakes, cinnamon buns, and of course cholent.

Like so many countries of old, dishes like gribenes, were used for two reasons: every piece of the raw materials you had the luck to come afford is used. Meat, skin, bones, and even the little toes of the family hen! In order to celebrate and make a meal a special occasion, you added what is considered as “ fit for Royalty” . As meat was expensive, well, refer  to reason one!

And the impoverished Jew wished to honor his or her Sabbath with a meal fit for a King.

However, in a modern world  of complex distribution logisitics, where just about everything is available to you, what  stops you  from replacing gribines with fig and date spread or chick pea and lima bean pate with garlic and onions?

Are the  items on your centuries old Jewish Sabbath menu sacrosanct? Isn’t your vitality more royal than a corned beef sandwich?

And the hot Nutritional Cholent, served hot after 12 hours after your scotch whiskey L’chaim, is also Traditional.

Here is a wonderful recipe for a great Cholent ( if you must you can add your favorite meat or fowl):

This historical Eastern European Sabbath stew typically prepared by Jewish women consisted of a simple, earthy combination of beans, grains, vegetables, and meat. The women would seal the pot with a paste of flour and water, and carry it to the village baker. By Friday evening, the large baker’s oven was brimming with many Cholent-filled copper pots that slowly stewed overnight. After Sabbath morning prayers, the men would stop by the village bakery, collect their aromatic stews, and carry them home for their afternoon meal.

This wholesome vegan medley of lima beans, red beans, barley, and buckwheat gleans its flavor from a galaxy of vegetables heightened with maple syrup and Dijon mustard.

1/2 C. (120 ml) dry lima beans
1/2 C. (120 ml) dry red beans

3 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
3 stalks celery, sliced
2 onions, coarsely chopped
3 medium potatoes, unpeeled, quartered
1 medium sweet potato, peeled, cut into large chunks
1/2 C. (120 ml) barley
1/2 C. (120 ml) buckwheat
1/2 head of garlic, chopped
1 t. salt
Freshly ground pepper

1/2 C. (120 ml) maple syrup
1/4 C. (60 ml) Dijon mustard
1 t. salt or to taste

  1. Pick over the lima and red beans, and discard any spoiled beans, debris, or tiny stones. Rinse the beans, put them into a large bowl, and add water to cover by 2-inches (5 cm). Soak 8 hours.
  2. Drain off water and rinse beans. Put them into a large, open stockpot with water to cover, and bring them to a boil. Turn heat down slightly, and boil vigorously for 10 minutes. Drain off all water.
  3. Place the beans in a crockpot, add carrots, celery, onions, potatoes, sweet potato, barley, buckwheat, garlic, salt, pepper and water to cover by 1 1/2-inches (3.5 cm).
  4. Cover the crockpot, and put it on medium heat. and cook for 12 hours or overnight.

Serves 6 to 8.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: