Adefina: The Iconic Slow-Cooked Chickpea and Beef Stew

Hélène Jawhara Piñer
Recipe by
Hélène Jawhara Piñer

Adefina, adafina, dafina, ani, hamin, caliente, trasnochado. All these names refer to one thing: the quintessential Shabbat dish of the Sephardic Jews of the 15th century. It was commonly known under different names, which would have been one way Jews were able to deceive Inquisition officials; the stew itself would have revealed the makers and eaters to be Jewish. All the names refer to characteristics of the dish: adefina, adafina, and dafina mean "buried, hidden;" ani, hamin, and caliente refer to the fact that the dish is hot; and trasnochado refers to the fact that it is cooked overnight.

Out of respect for the history of this recipe, the method presented here does not contain the "New World" ingredients like potatoes and sweet potatoes that are frequently used nowadays.

½ lb beef brisket, bone in, or lamb nook
2 Tbsp sugar water (to cover the meat)
1 onion
1⁄2 cup olive oil
2 bay leaves
1 Tbsp salt
1 whole head garlic
½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp black pepper
½ tsp ground nutmeg
½ tsp turmeric
1 cup chickpeas, soaked in water for 24 hours
6 hard-boiled eggs in their shells
10 dates
1 cup boiled Swiss chard, boiled
10 mint leaves
For the fried rice:
2 Tbsp olive oil
1⁄2 cup rice
1 clove garlic, chopped
½ tsp salt
½ tsp turmeric
2 saffron strands
A muslin cloth

Add the meat (bone in) to a large, ovenproof pot with the sugar. Brown for 5 minutes over high heat. Add enough water to cover the meat and boil for 10 minutes. With a skimmer, remove and discard the layer of fat that forms over the water.

In the same water, add the onion, olive oil, bay leaves, salt, one whole head of garlic, ground cinnamon, black pepper, ground nutmeg, turmeric, chickpeas, hard-boiled eggs, dates, chard, and mint leaves without overlapping, if possible.

Meanwhile, make the fried rice separately.

Take a frying pan and add the olive oil, rice, garlic, salt, turmeric, and saffron. Brown for 5 minutes over low-medium heat. Let it cool, put everything in muslin and tie it. Add the muslin to the pot with the meat.

Add more water to cover all ingredients. Cover the pot and place it in the oven at the end of the afternoon, at 200°F (100 °C). It will be ready the next day at the end of the morning.

You can serve the different ingredients from the pot (rice, eggs, vegetables, broth, meat) in separate dishes.