You can find versions of chamin in Jewish cuisine from almost any region- from Morocco and Spain in the west to Uzbekistan and Iraq in the east. In Israel, chamin was traditionally served in restaurants specializing in Eastern European Jewish food in Jerusalem, Bnei Brak and Tel Aviv. Many of them have closed down over the years and today there are only a handful of restaurants outside of Jerusalem and Bnei Brak that specialize in this particular cuisine and serve chamin throughout the year.
My recipe is based on 2 recipes that I have learned over the years: the first, is from Sanders restaurant on the outskirts of Levinsky market in Tel Aviv. The owner, Zami Schreiber, serves a dish that is based on a recipe that his father and his father’s partner created about 75 years ago. The second recipe, which includes many adjustments, was given to me by my butcher, Rafi Aharonovitch.
Ingredients for Chamin
- 2 cups white beans Preferably several types (red, cranberry and lima)
- ½ cup wheat or ¾ cup groats
- ⅛ cup olive oil
- 4 onions finely chopped
- 1.5 lbs (700 grams) beef shank meat, cut into large cubes (you can use 500 grams of shank and 200 grams short rib)
- 7 oz (200 grams) beef fat cut into small cubes (ask your butcher)
- 1.1 lbs (500 grams) bones beef knee (optional)
- 10 potatoes Medium, peeled and cut in half crosswise
- 2 teaspoons Salt
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
- 1 teaspoon hot paprika
- ½ teaspoon hot peppers chili (optional)
- 2 teaspoons brown sugar or date honey/silan (optional)
- 6 hard boiled eggs
- kishka whole (optional)
Soak beans and wheat (or groats):
1. Soak beans in a bowl with plenty of water overnight. Soak wheat (or grits) in a separate bowl overnight. Strain and rinse the beans and wheat.
Prepare the chamin:
2. Pour olive oil into a large oven safe pot that can hold all the ingredients. Add chopped onions and fry on medium-low heat until the onion is transparent.
3. Add meat, beef fat and bones to the pot. Mix and brown for 10 minutes.
4. Add the beans and wheat (or the groats). Arrange the potatoes over them.
5. Mix salt, black pepper, two types of paprika, chili (optional) and sugar (or date honey) with one cup of boiling water and pour over the contents of the pot.
6. Place eggs and kishka (optional) on top of the potatoes and add water up to the height of the potatoes and eggs. Bring to a boil, lower the flame and cook for an hour. Make sure the water covers the potatoes and eggs and add water as needed.
7. Heat the oven to 230F (110C) degrees.
8. Cover the pot, transfer to the oven and bake for at least 10 hours (and up to 14 hours).
9. Raise the oven temperature to 300F (150C) degrees and remove the lid. Bake uncovered for another two hours. Serve hot.