Thursday, September 15, 2011

Vegetarian Cholent

As we approach another winter menus start evolving away from fresh salads towards soups and heartier dishes. Cholent is a Jewish Shabbat (Sabbath) casserole traditionally served for lunch on Saturday. As there is no cooking from sundown on Friday the cholent is put together and cooked just before the cut-off time and placed on a hotplate (or in a very low oven) until the next day.

Perhaps the earliest prototype of the slow cooker, the Shtetl wives would take their cholents to the local baker's and put the pots in his oven, which he wasn't using over Shabbat. The meat, bones, potatoes, beans, carrots and onions would simmer overnight, the liquid absorbed and thickened to a rich, dark stew. The pots would be collected and the cholent served, still warm, for lunch.

North African and Middle Eastern Jews have their own version called Hamin and every family has their own special recipe. So what's a girl to do when she wants to serve the traditional fare that we all know and love, but she won't cook meat? Cholent aint cholent without a certain chewiness and a thick meaty sauce. So you adapt and experiment and eventually you come up with vegetarian cholent. This recipe feeds 4 with plenty left over for unexpected guests or lunch on Sunday. N.B. You need a big cooking pot!


4 small potatoes (left whole)
a handful of barley
some big mushrooms
2 carrots peeled and cut into large chunks
2 courgettes cut into large chunks
1 large sweet potato
1/2 small aubergine cut into cubes
a large onion
4 tomatoes peeled and chopped
1 block of tofu
4 eggs (wash the shells)
fresh coriander and parsley
oil for frying
water to cover
dried seaweed (optional)
2Tsp tomato puree, soy sauce, 1tsp Marmite (optional), 1tsp onion soup powder, salt, pepper.

Slice and fry the onion until golden and add the mushrooms and aubergine. Throw in the barley (uncooked), coriander and parsley and continue frying for a couple of minutes. Leave to one side.

Put the potatoes, carrots, courgettes, sweet potato, and tomatoes into a large pot. Add the fried onion, mushroom, aubergine, barley mixture and pour water over to cover. Add all the seasonings (including the seaweed if using). Place large slices of tofu and the eggs on the top. Heat until the liquid is boiling, cover the pot and simmer for at least an hour. Then put the pot on a hotplate for up to 20 hours. Peel the eggs before serving.

The cholent is the main dish. Don't go mad with all sorts of other things. A good bread to mop up the sauce and one salad for a bit of crunch to the meal is all you need - coleslaw goes well. Pickles are also good.

This post was submitted to Recipeshed at Chronicles of a Reluctant Housedad. Follow the link for more vegetarian joy.


  1. Sounds very substantial for a vegetarian dish. I think meat eaters tend to think of veggie food as a bit unsatisfying, but this certainly doesn't sound it. Thanks so much for sharing. I'm going to do a vegetarian theme once a month from now on

  2. Housedad, this certainly isn't for the fainthearted :). Loving the Recipeshed btw.

  3. That does sounds filling and delicious too! :-)

  4. I agree, this sounds substantial, and definitely one I will try- I had never heard of this dish before, and really appreciate the background information as well.