Reprinted with permission from Haaretz.com

Israelis are known for going against the stream, swimming against the current. And the best example might be the way Israelis welcome the new year. Come January, and the (fat, Western) world goes on a diet. In Israel, on the other hand, people take out their largest pots and start making heavy, oily, flavorful cholent.

Cholent is a Jewish invention. It is a stew cooked overnight, put in the oven on Friday evening and served for lunch on Saturday, in order to keep the religious prohibition against cooking on Shabbat. Different Jewish communities from around the world have different versions, which I’ve been discussing here every January for the past few years. Iraqis have tbeet, a chicken stuffed and covered with rice; Yemenite Jews cook jachnoon and kubaneh, overnight baked pastries that are served with eggs, schug (a hot pepper and cilantro condiment) and hilbeh (fenugreek paste). Some Sephardic Israelis make a simple macaroni and chicken version. But the most popular overnight Shabbat stew of all is cholent, in its Eastern European or Northern African (where it’s called hamin) version.

Full post and recipes here.