By: Eva Kakone-Pioger
Dafina: “daf” (Arabic word for "covered"), "skhina" (from an Arabic word meaning "hot") and "frackh" (Arabic word for "happiness").
When the Sephardic Jews of Spain were expelled in 1492, they took with them, from North Africa, the tradition of making Dafina for the Shabbat. We cooked our overnight stew in the same way, however we used neighbourhood ingredients and flavours.
Dafina was created to avoid violating the Shabbat laws that prohibit lighting flames, and doing any form of work. Therefore, we created the Dafina which is cooked on Friday afternoon and cooks uninterrupted until served as a midday meal on the Sabbath. The Dafina is made in a crock-pot or marmite (a covered pot). It is then baked overnight and retrieved for lunch on the way home from synagogue on Saturday.
Every family seems to have its own version of Dafina. In my family, the recipe goes as follows:
- 8 ounces (about 1¼ cups) dried chick-peas
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 medium onions, chopped (about 1 cup)
- 2 whole cloves garlic
- 1 pound beef or veal marrow bones
- 3 pounds beef brisket, short ribs, or chuck roast, cut into 4 pieces
- 12 medium potatoes (4 to 5 pounds), peeled, and a few sweet potatoes
- 5 pitted dates or 3 tablespoons honey (up to 6)
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ ground tumeric or 6 saffron threads, crumbled
- 2 teaspoons salt and pepper if wanted
- 1 cup barley raw (put in plastic bag with water before placing into the pot/marmite)
- 1 cup rice raw (put in plastic bag with water and then place it into the marmite)
- 6 large eggs, in shell (always have to be impaired for kosher reasons)
1. Add, without mixing, the chickpeas, garlic, bones, meat, potatoes sweet potatoes, bag of rice, paprika, cumin, cinnamon, turmeric or saffron, salt, and pepper in the pot/ marmite. Place the eggs around it (so they don’t break). Add enough water to cover everything and put it in the oven at a low heat Friday before sunset.
2. Dafina is traditionally separated into different dishes before serving: the chickpeas and cooking liquid in one bowl, the eggs in a second, the potatoes in a third, the meat in a fourth.
3. Eat up! Saturday at lunchtime, when you take it out of the oven, it is usually in the form of caramel since it has been cooking for 24 hours.