Skhina means “hot” in Arabic and is the cholent/hamin (which also mean “hot”) of Moroccan Jews prepared for the Sabbath midday meal. It is typically cooked the day before (to abide by Jewish law which prohibits all forms of cooking on the Sabbath) in a public ferran, a Moroccan communal neighborhood wood-fired oven. Ferrans still exist to this day and are still successful and far from going defunct despite modern commodities because of their practicality and cheap price. You drop off your bread or cookies, skhina or tangia and come back to pick it up when it’s ready without a hassle in the world, and for no more than a few dirhams (about 50 cents).

So here I am, a shiksa attempting my first skhina. I used a recipe adapted from a wonderful cookbook my mother owns called La Cuisine Juive Marocaine by Viviane Moryoussef but the measurements and some of the touches are my own. I did not send it to the ferran but rather cooked it in a slow cooker. It was delicious and hearty. It tasted ancient. It tasted of history and survival.

Skhina is sometimes made by preparing the eggs and the wheat separately from the stew or placing the wheat in foil poked with holes and burying it in the sauce. I cooked everything together in the slow cooker and only separated the ingredients when serving. The eggs are cooked whole, with their shells on. When you peel them after they’re cooked, the whites are brownish, the color of café au lait. They taste of the stew they were cooked in. I never had eggs cooked this way before. They were beautiful.

Related Posts:
Celebrating Jewish Moroccan Cuisine

Skhina Recipe

4 Servings

1 large red onion, peeled and finely chopped
¼ cup olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground pepper
1 ½ teaspoons chili powder
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 to 1/2 pounds top round roast or brisket, cut into 4 pieces

3 cups water
¾ cup bulgur wheat
1 bay leaf
4 garlic cloves, peeled
3 dates, pitted and chopped
4 small red potatoes, peeled
4 eggs, thoroughly washed

In a medium skillet, sauté the onions in olive oil until translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in the salt, pepper, chili powder, ginger, cumin, turmeric and nutmeg. Add the meat and brown it on all sides, 5 to 7 minutes.

Transfer the contents of the skillet to the Crockpot. Add the water, bulgur, bay leaf, garlic and dates. Bury in the potatoes and eggs in the sauce. Cook on high setting for 20 minutes until the sauce starts to simmer. Lower the heat to low setting and slow cook the skhina for 6 hours.

Using tongs fish out the eggs and wash them in the sink. Peel and plate them. Serve the rest of the ingredients side by side on the plate.


21 Responses to “Skhina”

  1. 1

    Caffettiera — 01/06/2011 @ 4:22 pm

    This dish is breathtaking. It makes me want to run and find a ferran, or at least buy a slow cooker.

  2. 2

    megan — 01/06/2011 @ 5:12 pm

    Thank you for posting this – my Sephardic grandma has made it every Shabbat since migrating to Canada in the 60s, but I am an ocean away and a vegetarian now so I have to rely on my memories. This was a pleasant reminder. Indeed the eggs are the best part, and the chickpeas too if they get a bit browned from the bottom. We call it dafina. Yummmm…. I may just have to make it without the meat one of these days! Beautiful site, glad I stumbled onto it.

  3. 3

    foodwanderings — 01/06/2011 @ 9:39 pm

    I saw your write up about this series. It gave me chills as in good, made me sentimental! We call this dish Hamin in Israel, saw you used the term as well:) Every Jewish community as you know has a different version of it. Made for Shabbat late lunch! You leave it in a low oven overnight, Fri. night, so that you rest and cease work & cooking on the Sabbat! Great jon on this post!

  4. 4

    foodwanderings — 01/06/2011 @ 9:39 pm

    Meant grea job on th epost!

  5. 5

    Aaron — 01/07/2011 @ 12:28 am

    Nisrine, this looks absolutely amazing. We are trying to broaden our Jewish palate, and this looks like a great start!

  6. 6

    Nisrine Merzouki — 01/07/2011 @ 1:17 am

    Megan, you could use chickpeas or beans, or a combination of both and leave out the meat. I think it would still be delicious. I'm glad this brought back good memories :)

  7. 7

    Dana — 01/07/2011 @ 4:48 am

    Mmm, I imagine making this would make the house smell divine

  8. 8

    Karen from Globetrotter Diaries — 01/07/2011 @ 5:37 am

    Oh wow, this looks like such great home comfort food– looks delicious! Some Chinese stewed meats have eggs simmered in them, interesting similarities…

  9. 9

    Anna Johnston — 01/07/2011 @ 6:07 am

    Hi there Nisrine :) Great to connect with you :) Oh my., I truly find this recipe absolutely stunning & will absolutely have to make it, how interesting that this dish seems to go by many names. I love the eggs cooked in their shells & imagine the flavours would really permeate. I look forward to returning to read more of these awesome recipes. Thanks for sharing.

  10. 10

    Dawn — 01/07/2011 @ 6:36 pm

    Gosh what an interesting recipe. I love all the flavors in it and the addition of the eggs. Great job. It's beautiful!

  11. 11

    Trix — 01/07/2011 @ 9:18 pm

    Cool! I am going to do this in my crockpot for sure. I LOVE the idea of cooking the eggs whole – kind of like a Moroccan Jewish version of Chinese tea eggs, if that makes any sense at all.

  12. 12

    Couscous & Consciousness — 01/07/2011 @ 11:36 pm

    OMG Nizrine – this looks amazing – I will definitely be trying this – I love that it can be cooked in my slow cooker. Your blog is absolutely beautiful – you can be sure I will be spending a lot of time here :-) Thanks for stopping by my blog – it's so nice to "meet" you.
    Sue xo

  13. 13

    Prerna@IndianSimmer — 01/08/2011 @ 4:00 am

    what a great tradition! Its always fascinating to learn about different religions and culture and discover that they are so similar to yours!
    Those are some great recipes and very Indian to Indian food!
    Love it!

  14. 14

    A Canadian Foodie — 01/08/2011 @ 3:25 pm

    "It was delicious and hearty. It tasted ancient. It tasted of history and survival." I am in awe, Nisrine. This kind of food and this kind of food writing is so critical to the survival of our traditional cultural foods. What a beautiful read. Thank you. Thank you. I could feel you reconnecting with those who came before through this cooking experience and truly believe that is so important for each of us to understand who we are and what the fabric of our family life really is. The photo of the dish is beautiful. I actually watched a Rick Steves travel documentary about a trip to Turkey and saw the communal ovens still being used there. I was completely charmed. It is such a smart idea and was incredible to see so many breads at once, yet the person working the fire knew exactly when in and when out and everything was cooked to perfection and everyone knew which bread was theirs.
    Big hug,

  15. 15

    Chef E — 01/08/2011 @ 8:22 pm

    Man this looks good. I have made eggs in berber sauces when I cooked in Ethiopian restaurants and this is similar in makeup- have to make this.

  16. 16

    Magic of Spice — 01/09/2011 @ 7:32 pm

    This skhina looks amazing…what beautiful flavors

  17. 17

    Toby — 01/10/2011 @ 9:16 pm

    A-Mazing! the dish looks just wondrous! thanks for sharing, Nisrine!

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