Kurdistan Shabbat Stew with Dumplings (Photo/Faith Kramer)
Kurdistan Shabbat Stew with Dumplings (Photo/Faith Kramer)

Antidote to bad weather: Kurdish Jewish dumpling stew

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The recent foul weather has left me craving a traditional Jewish favorite — Shabbat stew, a warming and filling Saturday lunch fixture across the global Jewish kitchen.

Ingredients and names vary around the world, but the stews (often known as cholent, chulent, hamin or dafina) are a standard according to Joel Haber, an Israeli-based food historian.

The writer of the blog The Taste of Jewish Culture, Haber features recipes from France, India, Poland and more in his free ebook, “Chulent & Hamin: The Ultimate Jewish Comfort Food.”

I’m sharing his recipe for a stew from Kurdistan I adapted to be cooked and served the same day. It tastes even better reheated the next (add water when reheating). See overnight variation to cook Friday for Saturday lunch.


Kurdistan Shabbat Stew with Dumplings

Adapted from Joel Haber’s “Mevoseh with Kubbeh”

Filling:

  • ½ lb. ground beef
  • Oil as needed
  • 2 cups chopped onion
  • 2 tsp. chopped garlic
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp. black pepper
  • 2 cups chopped parsley

Dough:

  • 2 cups rice flour or semolina
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup water, plus more as needed

Stew:

  • 2 cups coarse or medium ground bulgur
  • 1½ lbs. boneless lamb or beef chuck roast, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1½ cups chopped onion
  • 1 lb. whole small okra (fresh or frozen)
  • 2 cups zucchini chunks (cut into 1-inch pieces)
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. black pepper
  • ½ tsp. turmeric

For filling, heat skillet over medium heat. (If nonstick, add a Tbs. of oil; do not heat empty.) Add the ground beef. As soon as it starts to sizzle, mix in onions, garlic, salt and pepper. Sauté until browned (drizzle in tsp. oil if sticking). Remove from heat. Cool. Add with parsley to a food processor or blender, and pulse until finely chopped.

For dough, mix flour with salt. Slowly mix in water, adding more as necessary. Once dough begins to form, knead with wet hands. The dough should be pliable, but not runny or sticky.

Make dumplings (kubbeh). Take pieces of the dough between the size of a golf ball and an egg. Roll them with wet hands into smooth balls. With a thumb, make an indentation in the center of the ball, pressing the sides so they will be as thin as possible without tearing. Fill each with tsp. of filling, Close the ball up around the filling and smooth with a moistened index finger. Save leftover mixture. Boil a pot of salted water and put the kubbeh inside for 15 minutes. Drain and set aside.

To start making stew, rinse bulgur. Place in a large pot with chunks of meat and onions. Add salt, pepper and turmeric and cover with water. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to low. Cook covered for 1 hour. Add okra and zucchini. Add more water to keep stew covered. Turn heat up to medium and bring to a simmer.  Once simmering, lower heat to keep at a simmer. Simmer 30 minutes and test meat. A fork should almost glide through without resistance. If not, cover and simmer until meat is almost tender (timing will vary). Add dumplings and leftover filling mixture to the pot. Continue cooking for 30 minutes or until meat is totally tender. Add water as needed while cooking. Stew should be a bit soupy.

Overnight variation: Use a heavy pot and or use a flame tamer under the pot once the stew is simmering. Add vegetables when you add the meat and bulgur. After simmering for an hour, add dumplings. Add more water if needed. Cook covered overnight on very low heat.

Notes: Okra and zucchini can get mushy cooked overnight. Another option is to use a large turnip and 2 medium carrots (roughly chopped). It is not traditional, but I liked the flavor of dill in place of the parsley.

Faith Kramer
Faith Kramer

Faith Kramer is a Bay Area food writer and the author of “52 Shabbats: Friday Night Dinners Inspired by a Global Jewish Kitchen.” Her website is faithkramer.com. Contact her at [email protected].