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What is Cholent?

by Rabbi Naftali Silberberg


Library » Shabbat » Shabbat Meals | Subscribe | What is RSS?


Cholent is a culinary delight enjoyed by Jews of all backgrounds on Shabbat afternoon. In Ashkenazi circles it is called "Cholent," while Sephardic Jews refer to this dish as "Chameen" ("the hot dish").

This stewed dish is served hot on Shabbat afternoon, and since it is forbidden to cook or warm up food on Shabbat, the cholent sits on the covered stove-top (or in a crock pot) from before sundown Friday evening. The ingredients of this dish vary depending on your ancestry. The Ashkenazi cholent normally consists of beans, barley, potatoes and meat. (There are those who specialize in making a delicious vegetarian cholent). The Mid-Eastern variety is much spicier (what a surprise...) and often contains rice, chickpeas, and sometimes dumplings.

See also Why do we eat Cholent on Shabbat? and Do you have a good recipe for Cholent?


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Warmed Shabbat Meals

Posted by: Ron Hokanson, Utica, MI on Jul 02, 2005

I have a concern relative to serving hot foods on Shabbat, when the day forbids cooking. I am aware that many Jewish households serve reheated chicken (previously cooked on Friday) by re-warming it on a blech (the consensus being that the blech's temperature must not exceede 120-degrees).

As an executive chef with 30-years in the trade, I know that pre-cooked foods must be reheated to a temperature of 165-degrees, while hot foods must be held at 145-degrees (to reduce the chances of E-Coli, salmonella, and other food-borne pathogens).

Holding a hot, protein-rich stew or soup in a crock pot or on the back burner of a stove is safe enough (as long as the temperature does not drop below 145-degrees), but rewarming pre-cooked chicken and other proteins on a blech is unsafe. Is this latter practise common within the Jewish community? Could food safety classes be useful in synagogues or Jewish community centers?

Thank you,

Editor's Comment

The issue of reheating food on Shabbat is a complex one; Askmoses recommends that you don't do it without first speaking to your local Halachic authority about what you want to reheat and exactly how it may be done. But thank you for the health notice, it is a valid concern and should be discussed.
(pl: Shabbatot). Hebrew word meaning "rest." It is a Biblical commandment to sanctify and rest on Saturday, the seventh day of the week. This commemorates the fact that after creating the world in six days, G-d rested on the seventh.
(pl. Ashkenazim). A Jew of Northern or Eastern European ancestry.
(adj.) A Jew whose ancestors stem from Southern Italy, Spain, Portugal, North Africa or the Arabian countries.
A stewed (usually meat) dish served hot on Shabbat afternoon. Since it is forbidden to cook or warm up food on Shabbat, the cholent sits on the stove-top from before sundown Friday evening.