The History of Cholent

Cholent is a favorite Jewish stew that is cooked slowly for several hours — up to 12 hours. Cholent was developed over many centuries to follow food preparation laws on the Sabbath. It has profound emotional significance. The smell of cholent used to permeate the wooden houses of Jewish villages throughout Eastern Europe, with the pot being sealed with flour and paste and taken to the baker’s oven to bake throughout the day. Then family members would fetch the cholent on the way home from the synagogue.

Here are some of the rules of the Sabbath, and how cholent fits into the day of religious observance:

  • According to the laws of the Sabbath, it is forbidden to cook or warm up food. The cholent sits on the stove top or a crockpot before sundown, typically on Friday evenings.
  • Individuals who are observing aren’t allowed to roast, fry, boil, or bake. However, there are permissible ways to serve warm food during Shabbat. This can be accomplished by keeping the food cooking over the stove, called a blech.

On Shabbat, it is permissable to rearrange pots which sit directly on the blech, as long as these conditions are met:

  • The food is cooked
  • Part of the blech underneath the pot that is cooking the cholent stays hot to the touch
  • The food within the pot has not been allowed to cool down to room temperature

Ingredients in Cholent

While cholent is the term typically associated with Ashkenazi Jews, chameen is the preferred name for Sephardic Jews. For Ashkenazi Jews, cholent historically consists of a combination of barley, beans, potatoes, and meat that typically adheres to the guidelines recommended by the kosher diet. The Middle Eastern variety is very similar to the Ashkenazi cholent, adding spices, as well as chickpeas and sometimes dumplings. The slow cooking of these ingredients allows the flavors to permeate and produce the characteristic taste that is cholent.

If you’re planning a traditional kosher meal this holiday season, you cannot go wrong with a quality batch of cholent.

Here at Zayde’s at the Rosen Plaza, our team of chefs and caterers can the worry and stress out of preparing holiday meals for your family, or for any kosher event you may be planning. Our dishes adhere strictly to the standards of Jewish law, and we have built a reputation as the premier kosher catering service in Central Florida. To learn more about our catering or if you have questions about our kosher foods, contact us via our contact page.

More Information