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The Cochin Jewish Book of Meat and Fish

The Cochin Jewish Book of Meat and Fish

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The Cochin Jewish Book of Meat and Fish

240 pages
1 heure
Mar 28, 2016


The Cochinim (as the Jews from Cochin are called in Israel), like Jews across the world, love their food. However, their diet does not have the bland cholent, kishke and gefilte that are considered traditional Jewish fare. Throughout the 2000 years of their joyful history in the erstwhile Kingdom of Cochin, on the lush, rain-swept Malabar coast of India, the observance of kosher laws has been absolute and a mark of their identity. They acculturated without being assimilated into the dominant culture of the Hindus. The Cochini cuisine is a flavourful combination of rich spices like cumin, cardamom, cinnamon and pepper combined with coconut and coriander to make a wonderful array of dishes, all adhering to the strict dietary laws of the Hebrew Bible. Every Cochin Jewish kitchen became a place for gourmet cooking, with dishes that burst with flavour and health, tantalizing and satiating generations. The Jewish housewife picked up ideas from friends, neighbors and acquaintances, tweaked them to conform to Jewish law and passed it down from generation to generation.They infused their dishes with the magic of tamarind and curry leaves, and created others using ginger, turmeric, asafoetida, red and green chillies and fenugreek. Aromas, colours, mystery flavours, the heat of chillies and spices cooled with coconut milk combine to make Keralan and Cochini cuisine a kaleidoscopic adventure that keeps rolling through the day - everyday. The Cochinis in Israel still prepare the same traditional fare. As they say in Hebrew, "Be Te’avon" - Enjoy!

Mar 28, 2016

À propos de l'auteur

Retired Gynaecologist. Born in the erstwhile Kingdom of Cochin in Kerala; was Specialist Associate Professor at Calicut Medical College, when she volunteered for duty in Israel during the Yom Kippur War, serving at Telashomer Hospital in Ramat Gan; Later became Deputy Head of Department at Barzilai Medical Centre in Ashkelon, where she now lives. Twice honoured for meritorious service, Dr. Sassoon now devotes her time to her hobbies - cooking, sports and folk dancing.

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The Cochin Jewish Book of Meat and Fish - Dr Essie Sassoon



The Cochinim (as the Jews from Cochin are called in Israel), love their food. Living for around 2000 years in the erstwhile Kingdom of Cochin, on the lush, monsoon-swept Malabar Coast in the southwestern corner of India, this close-knit, orthodox community stayed true to the dietary rules of the Bible, adapting the abundant and exotic local produce to develop some wonderful dishes.

Spices, especially the 3 Cs - cardamom, cinnamon and cumin - along with coconut, coriander and pepper dominate their cooking. The Cochin Jewish Book Of Meat & Fish combines the culinary wisdom of over 30 members from the Cochini community, living in India, Israel, United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and Canada.

Some of the recipes are similar to the cuisine of Kerala Hindus, Christians and Muslims, among whom the Cochin Jews lived in close proximity for generations. The Cochinim, however, ensured that their food always remained kosher. This E-book is the second of a series of 4 cookbooks in the Spice & Kosher Series related to Cochini cuisine. Many of the recipes in this series were published in print earlier under the title Spice & Kosher: Exotic Cuisine of the Cochin Jews.

Kerala’s Jews or Cochinim make up one of the tiniest and most ancient of all Jewish communities in the Diaspora. Most of them settled in Israel after the founding of the country in 1948. Today, there are flourishing Cochini moshavim (settlements) in Israel - Nevatim and Shahar in the southern Negev desert, Aviezer, Mesilat Zion and Taoz near Jerusalem and Kfar Yuval in the far north. Cochinis also live in Binyamina, Petah Tikva, Rishon Le Zion, Ashdod, Jerusalem and Haifa.

Recipes in this e-book are not necessarily arranged in alphabetical order.

However, as they say in Hebrew: Be Te’avon – Enjoy!

Poultry In The Pot

Several Jewish families in Cochin, especially from the Ernakulam and Mala areas, were successful poultry farmers. There is recorded history of the Jews as suppliers of poultry and eggs to the Portuguese and the Dutch during their latters’ reign in Cochin from the 16th to the 19th centuries. (Access to Portuguese and Dutch forts also helped the Jews gather information for the Rajas of Cochin.)

In Israel, several Cochinis took up poultry rearing in their moshavim (settlements) on a semi-industrial scale and prospered as a result. One of them is Yossi Oren, from Ernakulam in Cochin, who has a big farm in Moshav Taoz, midway between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. In Moshav Nevatim in the Negev desert, there are six Cochini families who run poultry farms.

Towards the middle of the 20th century, poultry became the favourite meat for the Cochinis, because there was a shortage of shohets or ritual slaughterers to deal with bigger animals. Also beef and lamb were expensive and increasingly difficult to get in the tumultuous times, following India’s independence.


In North America, a roast means a chunk of beef or pork roasted in an oven for a couple of hours or more if it is slow cooked. In Kerala, however, a roast means cubed pieces of chicken cooked on a stove in a deep pot with a flavorful combination of onions, spices and chillies.

Most often, the meat is pan fried or deep-fried before it goes into the pot to soak up the spices. A garnish of either fried green chillies, slit lengthwise, or freshly chopped coriander leaves adds colour and tartness.

Chicken In Cashew Nut Sauce

This dish is a fancy variant of the Chicken Roast recipe. Serves 6.


1 kg boneless chicken, cubed

3 large onions, chopped fine

2 tomatoes, chopped

4 large onions, sliced thin

25 cashew nuts

Juice of one lemon

12 cloves of garlic, chopped

2 1" pieces of ginger, grated

1/2 tsp cumin seeds

2 tsp red chilli powder

1/2 tsp turmeric powder

1 tsp mustard seeds

1/2 cup chopped coriander leaves

Salt to taste

Coconut oil


Grind onions, ginger, garlic, cumin, chilli powder and 1/4 tsp turmeric into a smooth paste. Immerse cashew nuts in a bowl of water for an hour. Drain. Grind nuts to a paste, with 1/4 tsp turmeric and 3 tbsp of water. Keep aside. In a deep saucepan, heat the oil and pop mustard seeds.

Add sliced onion and fry until they turn translucent. Slide in the chicken pieces and add salt to taste. Add the chopped tomatoes and the onion and garlic paste. Add a cup of water and bring the mixture to a boil.

When chicken is done, add the cashew nut paste and lemon juice. When mixture begins to bubble, reduce heat and simmer for about five minutes. Garnish with chopped coriander leaves.

Kozhi Varuthu Arachathu

(Chicken In Rich, Fried Coconut Sauce)

Serves 6.


1 chicken, cut into cubes

4 onions, chopped

4 green chillies, chopped

3 red dried chillies

1 small sprig curry leaves

6-8 cloves of garlic-, crushed

21/2 " piece of ginger, chopped

1/2 tsp turmeric powder

1 1/2 tbsp red chilli powder

4 tsp coriander powder (lightly roasted)

1 tbsp garam masala (mix of spices like cumin, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves etc.)

1 cup grated/desiccated coconut

1/2 cup coconut oil

2 tbsp vinegar (optional)

Salt to taste


In a dry wok, stir fry the coconut on medium heat till it browns. Let cool and grind to a powder in a processor. Heat coconut oil in a deep saucepan and sauté onions along with garlic, green chillies, curry leaves and ginger until onions start to curl and brown.

Add turmeric, chilli powder and coriander powder. Mix well till the oil starts to separate. Add the chicken pieces and the dried red chillies along with one cup of water and stir. Add salt to taste. Cover the pan and cook on low fire for 15 minutes. If the gravy is thin, cook uncovered for another 5 minutes. Add the garam masala and the fried coconut and mix well.

(Optional: Add 2 tbsp of vinegar before taking pan off the fire.)

Courtesy: Rachel Roby, Petah Tikva, Israel.

Kozhi Pollichathu

(Chicken In Thick Gravy)

Serves 10-12.


2 kg chicken, cut into desired pieces

6 cloves of garlic, chopped fine

3 onions, chopped rough

2" ginger, chopped fine

3 tbsp oil

4 tbsp vinegar

2 tsp red chilli powder

1 tsp black pepper

4 tbsp coriander powder

1 bunch coriander for garnish

Salt to taste


Grind chilli powder, pepper and coriander powder with oil and vinegar. Marinate chicken in the spice mix. Leave covered in refrigerator for about three hours.

Cook chicken in a little water on medium heat for about an hour and add onions, ginger, and garlic when about 10 minutes are left. Let gravy thicken.

Garnish with fresh coriander leaves.

Courtesy: Gila Rosenblatt, Aberdeen, New Jersey, United States.


(Chicken With Chinese Potatoes)

Koorka is a small, hairy tuber belonging to the mint family of plants (Lamiaceae) and is native to tropical Africa. Botanists call this herbaceous perennial Plectranthus rotundifolius or Solenostemon rotundifolius.

It is cultivated extensively throughout South Asia and is in plentiful supply in Kerala where it has become a much-loved part of the local cuisine. In the West, it is called Chinese potato (nobody knows why!), Coleus potato, Hausa potato, country potato or native potato.

While the Syrian Christians and Hindus use the koorka mainly with beef (from the local water buffalo/oxen) or as a stir-fried,

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