Saturday, January 8, 2011

Mission Chulent: Week 7

It was a close call. I almost let you down this week. 58 minutes before Shabbos, I had ONE chulent (a.k.a. cholent) bubbling on the stove, and it was one which I blogged about three weeks ago. It was a busy week at work and home, and I just didn't get my act together to buy the ingredients for a new chulent.

Then I thought of you, my loyal followers, and the adrenaline kicked in. I pictured you rushing to my blog right after havdalah, eager to read my latest recipe and start shopping for next week's chulent. I imagined all those disappointed faces, devastated by my betrayal. I just couldn't let you down!

In high gear, I scrambled to think of a recipe that would cook up quickly and would use only ingredients I had in the pantry/fridge. I had come across a very non-traditional chulent recipe from thirschfeld on It had fast-cooking lentils instead of the usual beans, so I knew it had enough time to cook up before sundown. I thought I had most of the ingredients in the house, and with almost an hour till Shabbos, I figured I would throw it together.

I ended up improvising quite a bit. With [tick, tick, tick] 52 minutes left till Shabbos, I couldn't saute or caramelize or do anything at all fancy. To be perfectly frank here, I just threw everything in a pot, put it on a super high flame, and hoped for the best.

And guess what? It was GOOD. Fantastic rich flavors. Wonderful aromas. A real keeper. This one is making it to our favorites list, along with Esther Shemtob's Hamin and - but of course - my mother's meat chulent. The best part of all was that I made it less than an hour before Shabbos. This is a great backup recipe if you're ever running late putting up your chulent.

Indian Style Chulent with Lentils, inspired by thirschfeld's recipe
I made this chulent with chicken, as instructed in the original recipe, and it was FANTASTIC. But I think it would be wonderful with lamb or turkey instead. I'd like to try it vegetarian too. I suspect that the spicing will add enough interest to make up for the lack of meat. I would recommend making this chulent just a few hours before Shabbos. The lentils don't need a long cooking time like other chulent beans do. (You don't have to cut it as close as I did, though. I am still recovering....)

4 bone-in chicken thighs, skin removed
3 carrots, peeled, cut into 1 inch pieces
4 celery stalks, cleaned, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped coarse
2 russet or yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 sweet potato, peeled and cubed
1 cup brown or black lentils (I used small black Beluga lentils and they really retained their shape)
1 cup brown rice
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon 
1/8 teaspoon cardamom
1/2 teaspoon coriander
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon cumin 
2 teaspoons salt
1 cup dry white wine

Put everything into a nice large pot or crock pot, in the order listed. Add water to cover. Bring to a boil and then reduce to low. Leave the chulent simmering on low until Shabbos morning, or until you're ready to eat, at least 10 hours. Serve hot.


  1. Sounds amazing. I'm going to have to try it soon. I generally make a different cholent every week depending on what I have in the kitchen. This week I decided to make chili instead. A bit nontraditional but really delicious.

  2. Thanks, Rochel. We love chili, and I often make it during the week. I would have never thought to try it as chulent, but that's a great idea!

  3. Oh, this sounds really really good. I am going to try it vegetarian-style this week. Thanks for not letting down your loyal readers! BTW, I made jachnun (inspired by you)--although I have to confess that I just bought the frozen and stuck it along with some eggs in a tin on top of the cholent. It was FANTASTIC. Like a cross between strudel, borekas, and Yerushalmi kugel (the same caramelized flavor). Next time, I will try sticking in directly on top of the cholent.
    And thanks for your nice comments!!

  4. Thanks for stopping by Laura. Where can I find frozen jachnun? I have never seen it....
    I would love to hear how the vegetarian version of this recipe turns out. Please do let me know!

  5. Frozen Jachnun is sold by my kosher butcher (Sabra brand). Look near the frozen borekas . . . .
    I made the cholent vegetarian, using wheat bulghur instead of rice. Very good!

  6. I will have to see if my butcher or kosher supermarket carry the frozen Jachnun. Thank you!!!

  7. I made a double recipe of the Indian lentil chulent for dinner last night. The house smelled great. Didn't have cardamom, so I substituted equal parts nutmeg and ground cloves. I wasn't sure everyone would go for the new flavors, but the final verdict was 5 "love its" to 3 complainers, so this is a keeper. The only time *everyone* loves dinner is when it's Chinese takeout. ;)

  8. Nechama: thanks for letting me know. I'm glad it was successful. Innovative substitute for the cardamom!


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