This is the classic Shabbat lunch meal eaten by Indian Jews of Sephardi Jews and Far Eastern origin. It is a whole meal not just a single dish, and is made on the Friday before Shabbat and is cooked very slowly in a low oven and then eaten for lunch the following day. Don't just serve this for Shabbat ~ it is just as filling and delicious eaten in the week. Remember to start cooking the night before.
This stew is the equivalent to the Ashkenazi Jews cholent. The word Hameen, or Hamin, came from the Hebrew word "cham," meaning "hot", or the French word "chaud"- as it does resemble a Jewish French cassoulet.
When the Sephardi Jews of Spain were expelled in 1492, they took with them to Morocco and North Africa the tradition of making hamin for the Sabbath. They cooked their overnight stew in the same manner, using local ingredients and flavours. Mutton replaced beef, and rice-- cooked in a cloth bag to prevent sogginess- substituted for barley. The mixture was spiced with hot red peppers, saffron or turmeric, and ground coriander seed. Syrian Jews place the mixture inside a hollowed-out piece of pumpkin or squash and Jews throughout the Mediterranean often add chickpeas or cracked wheat as well.
This is actually the Sephardi equivalent of the Ashkenazi Cholent. There are two main differences: the Sephardi kitchen uses mostly whole-wheat grain and rice while it customary for the Ashkenazi to use pearl barley. As for the meats - the Ashkenazi use beef, duck, goose and schmaltz (fat), the Sephardi - beef, mutton, chicken, mutton fat and oil. Because of the length and gentleness of cooking, the meat used is cheap, gelatinous and tough.
The secret of a good Hameen is plenty of cinnamon so good thick sticks of the fresh spice should be used. The smell fills the kitchen with its unique aroma.
Preparation Time: 30 minutes
Cooking Time: Overnight!
Ingredients:2.3 kg roasting chicken – cut into 8 portions
2 onions – peeled and roughly chopped
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
450g salad tomatoes – roughly chopped
2 tablespoons tomato puree
400g basmati rice
7 whole cloves cardamom
3 garlic cloves – peeled and finely chopped
2 cm fresh root ginger – peeled and finely chopped
3 cinnamon sticks
3 teaspoons turmeric
2 litres chicken stock
Salt and freshly ground black pepper – to season
Method1) Heat the vegetable oil in a very large frying pan. Sauté the onion, garlic, turmeric, and ginger for 2 minutes.
2) Add the chicken pieces and brown all over.
3) Add the rice, tomatoes, tomato puree, cardamom, and cinnamon. Cook for a further 2 minutes and then pour in the stock. Make sure that the stock completely covers the rice.
4) Mix well so that the cinnamon flavours infuse into the chicken. Bring to the boil and then reduce to simmer for 10 minutes.
5) Pre-heat the oven to its lowest setting – 250 F/ 120C/ Gas mark ½.
6) Transfer to a large ovenproof dish and cover with a lid and foil.
7) Place in the pre-heated oven and cook overnight.