We eat chicken or beef on happy occasions.” In day-to-day life, the Jews of Cochin ate a lot of vegetable and rice dishes, as well as fish and chicken.
They boast a large variety of breads—some baked, others steamed, deep-fried, or pan-fried—as well as many different savory snacks.
The kadtela pastel I was served had the same filling, but with a different kind of dough, which reminded me of blintzes.
Dosha, a pancake that brought to mind the Yemenite lahoh, was served with a traditional spicy and sour sauce called , made of ground almonds, coconut milk, curry leaves, and mustard seeds.
But many Israelis don’t know that Jews have a history in India that dates back to antiquity.
While there are different groups of Jews in India, living in different areas, the Cochin Jews of South India are the oldest, dating back to biblical times.
I sampled pastels—deep fried pastries similar to empanadas, filled with minced chicken breast, onions, cabbage, and spices, which probably originated from Spain or Portugal.Many of the dishes serve a certain purpose and are aligned with holidays and specific dates.For instance, the Cochin papadam (which differs from the kind of papadum you get in Indian restaurants) is eaten before the Tisha B’Av fast and is served with various kinds of curry.These Jews, whom the Hindu Raja granted their own area in the southern Indian port city of Cochin (known today as Kochi) during the Middle Ages, lived peacefully in what is now part of the state of Kerala.Even though they never suffered persecution, most of them immigrated to Israel in the 1950s and early ’60s.