This dish is one of the favorites of my childhood. Dafina is a Sephardic Beef "stew", and the cooking technique is adapted to the Sabbath (the day of rest). My Step Father's Mother, who was an exceptional cook, taught my Mom how to make it. This delicious one pot meal, with fork tender beef, rice and chickpeas infused with stock and spices is visually a very brown dish, but a little coriander or parsley added as garnish give the final product a boost.
serves 4 to 6
- 310 ml (1 1/4 cups) dried chickpeas
- 2 medium onions, sliced
- 1.36 kg (3 lbs) beef chuck roast
- 3-4 beef ribs or beef bones
- 45 ml (3 tablespoons) canola oil
- 4 large russet potatoes*, peeled
- 2 l (8 cups) beef or vegetable stock
- 1 bay leaf
- 5 ml (1 teaspoon) paprika
- 5 ml (1 teaspoon) ground cumin
- 2.5 ml (1/2 teaspoon) cinnamon
- 10 ml (2 teaspoons) salt
- 2.5 ml (1/2 teaspoon) ground pepper
- 250 ml (1 cup) uncooked long grain rice
- 1 egg, beaten
- 5 ml (1 teaspoon) cinnamon
- 1 ml (1/4 teaspoon) ground nutmeg
- 2.5 ml (1/2 teaspoon) salt
- 1 ml (1/4 teaspoon) ground pepper
- 4 to 6 eggs in shell, rinsed
- Soak the chickpeas overnight in a large quantity of water. Drain and reserve. In a large pot with a tight fitting lid saute the onions in oil until lightly golden. Add the chickpeas, meat, ribs or bones, and potatoes. Add the stock, bay leaf, paprika, cumin, first quantity of cinnamon, first quantity of salt and ground pepper. Pre-heat oven to 95 C (200 F).
- To a bowl add the rice, 1 egg, remaining cinnamon, nutmeg, second quantity of salt and pepper, and mix to blend. Wrap the mixture well in a cheese cloth, and nestle it, and the remaining eggs in shell gently into the pot. Add enough water (if necessary), to mostly cover stew. Let the pot come to a gently boil. Remove from heat immediately, cover, and place in the center of the preheated oven. Cook for 12 to 18 hours, adding a little stock or water to the Dafina if it becomes too dry.
Serve the potatoes sliced. Slice the meat thinly. Remove the rice from the cheese cloth, and separate grains with a fork. Add all the ingredients to a large serving dish in a decorative manner or serve the ingredients in separate serving dishes. Provide a dish for the egg shells.
Just a note: When my mom made this dish the rice mixture sometimes contained either ground beef or lamb. If you feel like trying it, add half a pound of raw ground meat to the mixture. Sprinkle the rice with coriander just before serving. If anyone reading this has a different way of making this dish please share in the comments section. What additions or variations have you made or experienced?