Every Jewish community around the world has its own version of cholent. A hearty mix of beef, marrow, beans and barley, this is the perfect slow-cooked meal to prepare before the start of Shabbat on Friday evenings.

Merelyn serves leftover cholent as a base for barbecued lamb chops – heavy but delicious, and you don’t need much!






Skill level

Average: 3.3 (78 votes)


  • 3 tbsp olive oil  
  • 700 g beef top ribs, cut into pieces
  • 700 g beef shin (gravy beef), cut into pieces
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 tbsp sweet paprika
  • 2 litres water
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup dried cannellini beans, washed and soaked overnight
  • 1 cup dried borlotti beans, washed and soaked overnight
  • ½ cup pearl barley
  • ½ large marrow bone (ask the butcher to saw it into pieces)
  • 3 desiree potatoes, quartered with the skin on
  • 3 large carrots, cut into chunks

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


This cholent is cooked for four hours in a low–moderate oven, but for the ultimate slow-cooking, Merelyn says you can cook it overnight at 100°C. To stick to tradition, brown the meat in schmaltz instead of olive oil (schmaltz is rendered chicken fat that is sometimes flavoured with onions, apples and seasonings) and buy the ribs from a kosher butcher, where they only use the top half of a carcass (in a regular butcher these would be sold as asado cut).

You'll need to begin this recipe 1 day ahead.

Preheat the oven to 160°C.

Heat the oil in a large ovenproof pot. Brown the meat on all sides then remove from the pot. Add the onion and sauté until dark golden. Stir in the garlic and paprika and add the water, salt and pepper. Return the meat to the pot and add the drained beans and remaining ingredients. Bring to a simmer. Cover the pot with foil then with a tight-fitting lid and bake in the oven for 4 hours.

Check the water levels during cooking to make sure the cholent isn’t drying out. After 3 hours, the meat should rise to the top of the dish and look brown and crunchy. In 4 hours, the meat will be falling apart, melting into the beans, and the marrow should be falling out of the bones. Taste for seasoning before serving.


• Beans and lentils take up a lot of salt. I add 1 tbsp according to the recipe, but I always taste for seasoning at the end of the cooking, and add another large pinch or two of salt. Check for pepper again too.
• Serve leftover cholent with a BBQ. It’s very heavy, but delicious as a base under grilled lamb chops. You don’t need much!
•Leftovers freeze well. Add a bit of extra water when reheating in the oven.