Joel Haber: 18 Jewish Foods Podcast and Hamin Kharshuf aka Chulent

Taste Buds with Deb - Episode 50
April 3, 2024

When food lecturer and podcast host Joel Haber first moved to Israel, he became a tour guide.

“One of my most popular tours is a culinary tasting tour of Shuk Machane Yehuda, Jerusalem’s famous outdoor market,” Haber told the Journal.

As he dug into the food, it opened up a whole world of possibilities.

“I’ve always loved food; I just wasn’t doing food professionally,” said Haber, who researches, writes and lectures about Jewish food history, including in the US. He grew up in New Jersey and lived in New York City and Los Angeles for many years, before moving to Jerusalem in March 2009.

“I also had the honor of knowing Gil Marks of blessed memory, who was a great Jewish food historian,” he said. “Those two things inspired me … and then when COVID hit and I had no tourism, I was able to really ramp it up even more.”

Haber thinks people’s passion for food has been developing for a long time.

“We are certainly not the only culture like this,” he said. “But food is particularly important in Jewish culture.”

Haber does not simply look into the food itself; to him it’s a window onto discussion of culture and history.

“If you want to dig into food and you’re Jewish, then you’ll discover the [different] Jewish foods,” he said. “Or if you’re really into food and you start looking at the Jewish food, then it offers you a window into the Jewish culture.”

Haber’s new “18 Jewish Foods” podcast is a 20-episode series (each one is 15 to 20 minutes in length). There’s an intro and wrap up episode, in addition to one for each food, food category or iconic dish.

“Each episode will not only be about a food, it’ll also talk about something to learn about the Jewish people,” he said. “There’s a short interview as well of somebody contemporary who’s connected with that food to show that these foods are still alive now and are taking on new faces all the time.”

Each food discussed meets one of three broad criteria.

“Either it’s something that is unique to the Jews or originally Jewish,” Haber said. “The second category would be something that is eaten by Jews and non Jews, but that the Jewish version is different in some way, often due to the laws of kosher.

“The third, and it’s admittedly the loosest category, is a food that is very strongly associated by non Jews with the Jewish people.”

As part of the conversation, Haber shares one of his favorite recipes for a type of Shabbat stew. It’s one of twelve recipes in a free ebook he put out last year, called, “Chulent & Hamin: The Ultimate Jewish Comfort Food.”

“Almost every Jewish community around the world has some type of slow cooked dish,” he said. “[It] begins being prepared on Friday and then is left to cook through the entire night on a low heat Friday night to be eaten hot for lunch on Shabbat on Sabbath.”

As an American who moved to Israel in 2009, Haber likes to bridge those two cultures together when he can. His recipe for Hamin Kharshuf is below. The more common name for it in English is Chulent.

Hamin Kharshuf includes cardoon, a type of thistle that’s a relative of the artichoke, and a lot of real Israeli flavors.

“It’s a lot of work, but it’s delicious,” he said. “To me, it’s the taste of winter in Israel.”

Learn more about Joel Haber at TasteofJew.com.

For the full conversation, listen to the podcast:

Hamin Kharshuf

I invented this stew to highlight one of my favorite winter vegetables in Israel. Cardoon (kharshuf in Hebrew) looks like a prehistoric celery. A relative of the artichoke (to which it also tastes similar), you must peel the whole thing to remove the thorns and tough exterior. But because of this consistency, it holds its form well through long stewing, making it perfect for a Shabbat stew! I decided to feature many of my favorite Israeli flavors in here (though after attempting a version with techina (sesame paste) drizzled on top, I realize they don’t all work).


1 medium cardoon, or 1¼ lbs / 565 g frozen artichoke bottoms (see note)

3 cups / 500 g wheat berries

15 oz / 425 g chickpeas

1¼ lbs / 565 g lamb or fatty beef, cut into chunks

12 cloves of garlic

3 tbsp zaatar

1 tbsp sumac

2 tsp salt

1 tsp pepper

1 egg per person, still in shells


Carefully peel each cardoon stalk, removing the thorns, leaves and tough exterior. This will take a little while, but the effort is worth the result. Cut the peeled stalks into pieces about 3 inches long and put them into a large bowl of lightly acidulated water (water with a bit of lemon juice inside).

Put the wheat and chickpeas into the pot. Mix together. Insert the beef chunks and pieces of cardoon around the pot so they are mixed in with the wheat and chickpeas. Insert the garlic cloves in various places. Sprinkle the zaatar, sumac, salt and pepper over everything.

Add water to cover. Gently insert the eggs around the top of the pot. Bring to a boil, then simmer for about 20 minutes.

Cook overnight by any of the standard methods.


If cardoon is not in season (or you have no idea where to find it), frozen artichoke bottoms work as a great substitute. Do not use marinated bottoms in jars; just plain, unflavored frozen ones.

I like serving this with some extra virgin olive oil and a bit of lemon juice drizzled on top.

Another option, for those who like their food spicy, is to stir some schug or harissa through your portion. These flavors work perfectly well with this dish.

Debra Eckerling is a writer for the Jewish Journal and the host of “Taste Buds with Deb.Subscribe on YouTube or your favorite podcast platform. Email Debra: tastebuds@jewishjournal.com.

Did you enjoy this article?
You'll love our roundtable.

Editor's Picks

Latest Articles

Ha Lachma Anya

This is the bread of affliction our ancestors ate in the land of Egypt

Israel Strikes Deep Inside Iran

Iranian media denied any Israeli missile strike, writing that the Islamic Republic was shooting objects down in its airspace.

More news and opinions than at a
Shabbat dinner, right in your inbox.

More news and opinions than at a Shabbat dinner, right in your inbox.

More news and opinions than at a Shabbat dinner, right in your inbox.