About Us Contact Us Help




Kosher Indian Recipes

Tara Deshpande Tennebaum

Indian Jewish cuisine

The Jewish Community in India is diverse and divided into three main communities- Bene Israelis, Marathi speaking Jews who settled in Maharashtra and along the Konkan coast and are today mostly in Mumbai and Pune, the Cochin Jews in Cochin and the Iraqi Jews who settled in Mumbai, Calcutta and Pune. The Cochin Jews are considered the earliest settlers a part of Shlomo’s fleet that came to the Western Indian coast in 338 A.D. followed by the Bene Israelis who came from Persia via Sind into India and finally the Baghdadi Jews who came to India as late as 1750 A.D through Calcutta. Manipur, one of India’s northeastern states has a vibrant and growing Jewish population mostly Hindus and Buddhists who converted.

India has over 50 beautiful synagogues some dating back to the early 12-century. They have developed a unique cuisine maintaining traditions of kosher and native influences while adapting to the ingredients and customs of India. Cochini Jewish food is heavily influenced by south Indian traditions while Bene Israeli is by Western Hindu traditions.

The use of coconut, peanuts, bananas, fish, cilantro, green Indian chillies, black peppercorns and rice with celery, parsley and matzo meal indicate mixing of cultural and culinary traditions. Some of the dishes are-Chittarnee- sweet and sour orange lemon chicken, Mahasha- eggplants stuffed with chicken, rice and vegetables, Arooks- deep fried fish cutlets-,Apam/semolina cake, Coconut and banana pancakes, Coconut Bread Pudding, La Pastille chicken lemon and cinnamon pies-,Mawarcha spicy, coconut chicken- Baghdadi, Fish curtis- deep fried or pan fried fish cutlets, Mahmoosa- Scrambled eggs with spicy potatoes, Pilaw Matabakh- rice with lemon and cilantro.

Mahmoosa Scrambled Eggs with potatoes (Baghdadi influences) For 4.

1. 1 small to medium sized onion finely chopped (cooking variety)
2. 1 large chopped tomato
3. 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil/olive oil
4. 3 medium cooking potatoes boiled and mashed or finely cubed
5. 4 eggs beaten well.
6. 1 large Thai, Jalapeno or Indian green chili finely chopped (optional)
7. 2 teaspoon of turmeric
8. 1 tsp chili powder
9. 1 tbsp ginger paste
10. 1 tsp lemon juice optional
11. 1 tsp finely chopped celery stalk (optional)
12. 1 tbsp of chopped cilantro leaves
13. salt to taste
Method: Peel and cut potatoes. Slice lengthwise and then breadth wise as finely as possible. Soak in water to prevent discoloration. Sauté onions, ginger, chilies and celery in 3 tablespoons of vegetable or sunflower oil. Add tomatoes and cook about two mins until tomatoes are soft. Drain the chopped potatoes, add to the sautéed mixture and mix thoroughly. Add 2 teaspoon of turmeric, chili powder. Add 1cup water. Turn the heat to high, stirring regularly to ensure the potatoes do not stick to the bottom of the pan. Cook 10-15 minutes, until the chopped potatoes are tender but not mushy and the mixture is totally dry. Keep adding a little water if the potatoes stick to the sides of the pan. Add 4 beaten eggs and scramble until the egg soft but not runny and is thoroughly mixed in with the potato. Simmer until the Mahmoosa is dry, turning from time to time. Salt to taste and garnish with chopped fresh parsley or cilantro leaves and lemon juice if desired. Serve hot with bread.

Fish Curtis/cutlets Bene Israeli For 6

1) 2 slices of white bread
2) 1 lb. Of uncooked, boneless white fish –halibut, bass, tripe (a meaty fish) mashed
3) 1 small finely chopped onion
4) 1 tbsp ginger paste
5) 1 tablespoon tomato sauce/paste
6) 1 teaspoon salt and to taste
7) 1 tsp turmeric
8) 1 tsp chili powder
9) 1 egg
10) 1 chopped green chili Thai/Jalapeno Indian (optional)
11) Lemon juice
12) 1 tsp coriander-cumin powder
13) One tablespoon of chopped cilantro leaves or parsley
14) breadcrumbs or matzo meal
Method: Remove bones and skin mash fish into a pulp with a fork or blend for 20 secs in a processor. Don’t over blend. Soak 2 slices of white bread in water for a couple of minutes. Squeeze out the water and crumble the bread into fish. Add egg, onion, tomato sauce, turmeric, coriander and cumin powder, ginger, 1 teaspoon salt, chili powder, chilies. One tablespoon of chopped coriander leaves or parsley is optional. Mix well. Divide the mixture into balls the size of a baby potato or 1.5 inches width. Coat with breadcrumbs or matzo meal and deep fry in a wok of hot oil on high heat till golden. Alternatively make small slightly flat patties about 1.5 inches in diameter and pan fry in a nonstick pan on medium heat in about 2 inches of oil. Drain and serve hot with a variety of vegetables and relishes. You may also bake these in a well greased tray at 300 C for about 45 minutes until golden brown.

Mahasha- Bene Israeli Serves 4-6

1) 1/2 cup rice washed and drained (if vegetarian use 1 cup rice)
2) 2 cups hot water
3) 4-6 baby small eggplants boiled and slit lengthwise
4) ¼ pound of minced chicken or turkey (substitute with potatoes for veg)
5) 1 tsp cumin and coriander powder
6) 2 tsp lemon juice 8) 1 tsp turmeric
9) 1 tsp chili powder
10) 1 tsp celery stalk chopped (optional)
11) ½ inch ginger finely chopped
12) 1 large onion ground
13) 1 tsp crushed black peppercorn
14) 2 cloves
15) 1 bay leaf
16) 2 tbsps veg/corn or olive oil
17) 1 beaten egg
18) Salt to taste
19) Flour to dust
Method Preheat oven 350 C. Wash and drain rice. Set aside to dry. To boil eggplants wash them and put them, holding the stalks upwards into a stockpot of boiling water. Boil till soft but skin must remain intact. Cool, slice lengthwise and remove pulp gently, leaving the skins and stalk intact. Place skins on paper towels so the water maybe absorbed. If necessary blot gently with paper. Set pulp aside. To hot oil in a wide and deep saucepan on medium flame, add bay leaf and cloves. Remove cloves and bay leaf after 30 secs if desired. Add onions, ginger, celery and sauté till transparent on medium flame. Add chicken mince or mashed potatoes, eggplant pulp, turmeric, chili powder, cumin and coriander powder, crushed pepper and lemon juice. Add rice. Add 1 cup boiling water. Cook till rice is tender and sticky. The mixture should be moist and slightly sticky as when it is baked it will dehydrate further. Gently rub the eggplant skins with oil. Stuff them with the chicken and rice mince. Brush with beaten egg and dust with flour or matzo meal. Bake on a cookie tray or oven proof dish in till golden brown. Serve hot.

Apam- coconut cake Cochin Jewish specialty for 4-6

1. 1 can thick coconut milk or ½ can coconut milk and 1.5 cups milk (Omit milk if preparing meat dishes)
2. ¼ cup sweetened flakes of coconut (optional)
3. 6 pods of cardamom crushed or ½ tsp nutmeg ground
4. ¼ cup almonds or cashews toasted
5. 1 ½ cup fine semolina (farina)
6. 13/4-heaped cup sugar (reduce or increase sugar for desired level of sweetness)
7. 4 ozs butter or ghee or vegetable shortening/Parkay/Vanaspati Dalda if keeping Kosher
8. 2 eggs
Method Preheat oven 325. Roast semolina in a saucepan on low heat, stirring constantly, till it turns a light golden color for about 5 minutes. Do not brown the semolina. Add ghee or vegetable shortening, margarine, Vanaspati Dalda or Parkay and roast another 3-4 minutes. Set aside to cool completely. Add coconut milk, milk, coconut flakes, powdered cardamom/nutmeg and sugar and eggs. Stir vigorously. Add nuts. Pour into a baking pan about 8-10 inches wide and 2-3 inches deep and bake till firm and golden brown in a 325 oven for about 25-35 minutes. To test insert a sharp knife. If it comes out clean the cake is ready. Important: If the semolina is very warm when liquid is added it tends to cook immediately and become thick and lumpy. Therefore the roasted mix must be cooled before the coconut milk is added. Ghee may be replaced with margarine or shortening and milk may be omitted entirely.

These recipes are copyrighted by the author and for personal use only. Not to be distibuted or reprinted anywhere else.

Actor/Writer/ Gourmet Cook Tara Deshpande Tennebaum lives in the Boston area with her husban Dan Tennebaum.

Bookmark and Share |

You may also access this article through our web-site http://www.lokvani.com/

Home | About Us | Contact Us | Copyrights Help