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Recipe Collection

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Madfouna (Oxtail Stew with Swiss Chard)

<i>Madfouna</i> (Oxtail Stew with Swiss Chard) Related:   Africa, gluten-free, Israel & Middle East, meat, Purim, Shabbat

Prep time: 30 minutes

Cook time: 4 hours

Yield: 6 servings

Madfouna is also a traditional Tunisian Jewish dish served on the Sabbath. Tunisian Jews call it P’kayla. It’s a special dish that our friend and retired restaurant chef, Moncef Meddeb, insisted we include in our cookbook. According to Moncef, it’s one of the grand dishes of Tunisian cuisine, although he describes it as looking like the debris dredged up from the bottom of a pond, dark and muddy. This stew is well worth the effort and certainly one of the most delicious meat dishes we had in Tunisia. Allow 4 hours for prep and cooking time.


  • Stew
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 pounds Swiss chard leaves, stems removed
  • 12 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 8 scallions, white and light green parts, finely diced
  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 2 tablespoons ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 pounds oxtail, fat removed, cut into 2- to 2½-inch pieces
  • 1 cup canned white beans, rinsed and drained
  • Meatballs
  • ½ pound lean ground round
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 tablespoon dried mint leaves, finely crushed
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled, minced or crushed with a garlic press
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


  • Pour enough olive oil to cover the bottom of 2 large frying pans, and heat the oil over low heat. Divide the Swiss chard into 4 portions. Add 1 portion to each pan. Sauté the chard, stirring constantly, until the chard turns dark. Be careful not to burn the chard. Transfer the chard from the frying pans to a large bowl. Repeat the process with the remaining Swiss chard. Transfer all the cooked chard to a cutting board and finely chop with a knife.
  • Cover the bottom of a large pot with a thin layer of olive oil, and heat over medium-low heat. Add garlic, scallions, paprika, coriander, salt and pepper. Add oxtail, and brown the meat on all sides to seal in its flavors. In another pot, boil 5 cups water, and add it to the meat and spices. Cook 15 minutes. Add chopped Swiss chard and simmer, covered, over low heat for 3 hours. Meanwhile, mix ground beef with coriander, mint, garlic, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Shape mixture into 1-inch meatballs. Add meatballs and white beans to the stew, and cook, covered, over low heat for another 30 minutes. Serve with plain couscous or rice, a green salad and a French baguette.

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