I just made dafina for the first time this past Shabbos, using this recipe: http://www.globalgourmet.com/food/cookbook/2009/jewish-slow-cooker/dafina.html#axzz1Enf7JCug
I can't swear that it's absolutely authentic, but it's in line with what I was served when I was in Marrakesh for Shabbos. I do think that the recipe linked above has way too much meat, and I would halve it next time. I skipped the marrow bones without missing them, but did think the saffron (which I'm out of at the moment) would have added something that turmeric did not. We like very highly seasoned food, and found that the spice mix had mellowed a lot over the course of the cooking; I might increase it by 1.5-2x next time, but I don't know that others would want to do this. We also love dried fruit, and although I added as many apricots as I did dates, I might add more next time. I did not brown the meat, as I only do that if it seems critically necessary - it fills my vent-fan-less apartment with greasy smoke that smells for a day or two.
You also might want to check out the discussion in this thread, on other crock-pot Shabbos meals: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/666533
I agree with GilaB taht a spice mix that is perfect on Friday avternoon will have lost its punch by Saturday lunch. One solution is to add spice, like ground hot red pepper, to the cholent as you put it in to a serving bowl. the other is to put a hot spice blend like schug on the table as a condiment. You can also serve your dafina with a really lively matboucha or aother highly spiced salad.
Dear GilaB ,
As an intimate connoisseur of DAFINA , ( I have been eating it all my life ) let me make a few suggestions. First the meat, shank if possible with the bone, include marrow bones if you can find them. Marrow is in itself a special part of the DAFINA experience. Cows feet for the gelatin .Dried fruits; yes mostly dates for the sweetness and the colour. Grains as many as you dare :soft wheat, barley, rice , bulgur , corn . Legumes
chick peas but also pinto and kidney and especially lentils.
The etymology of cholent may have a link to old French
Chaud Lens ( Hot lentils) . Make an attempt to cook the rice wheat and barley within some kind of barrier, to keep some distinctive flavor to each of the grains. My mother used Muslin but I have also used aluminum foil
successfully . Spices olive oil and white pepper for the rice,
Paprika and garlic ( whole ) for wheat and barley . Turmeric instead of saffron for the taste . Saffron would be a waste since the desired color is more chocolatey than
Yellowish. Above all experiment . The perfect DAFINA is forever being recreated.
If you don't like cholent, try this. The un-cholent. Tomato chicken with North African spicing. Really fast and unfussy to make, delicious, and not cholent at all.
Into crockpot put:
1 large onion, sliced or 2 small onions, quartered
4 pieces chicken with skin, or skinned and add 1 tablespoon chicken fat. I like it with chicken thighs.
1/2 cup whole wheat berries
1 box chopped tomatoes in juice (26 oz.)
1 tsp. cumin
1 or 2 dried red peppers, crumbled. (you know how hot you like it)
1 tsp. garlic crushed garlic or a couple of cloves (again, you know how much garlic you want) Garlic haters can leave the garlic out
This serves 4, multiply as needed.
Turn crockpot to high. Bring to a simmer, aadd chicken, when it comes back to a simmer turn the crockpot to low, and and forget about it.
No cholent flavor.
No cholent flavor? Now you're talking.
Do you need to add water or is the juice from the tomatoes enough?
The recipe sounds really good, and may try it with some adaptations. I bought some ras el hanout (moroccan spice blend) yesteday which may go very well in this. Some apricots may also add some great sweetness.
I do add a small amount of water. Just a quarter of an inch or so above the level of the other food.
And do fool around with the recipe. I vary it regularly. And do similar things with lamb, and one week with goat.
I love the way whole wheat berrries hold together even after cooking all night. They do not turn ot mush. (if traditional Galitzianer cholent with melted barley is your thing, just pretend you didn't read this)
I hope you like it. I adore Moroccan spice blends.