Cooking Kosher – The Indian Way

Kosher food in India has always been close to the original food cooked in Israel. I found some recipes to be completely new using Indian spices and herbs, including coriander, coconuts, turmeric, bitter gourd, etc. The Jewish clan realized that India had much to offer in terms of variety, and they adapted to the lifestyle where they settled down. For example, the Baghdadi Jewish Community in Kolkata, use spices and vegetables available there, such as ginger, turmeric, and spinach. Kosher food has found new meaning in India and worldwide

The Jewish Dietary Laws are very specific about kosher food. These laws prevent Jews from eating certain animals that do not chew their cud like birds and animal of prey. Thigh meat is not allowed. Blood has to be completely drained. Meat and milk cannot be combined and separate vessels have to be used for both. Grape wine and other products not made under supervision cannot be consumed. Even meat coming from Israel has to be Kosher certified. In other words, tithe or one-tenth of any product in kind or cash had to be given to a religious organization. Maintaining continuity, Indian Jews have come up with great recipes that need to be cherished.

Curried Coconut Soup: Here is one kosher dish that uses commonly found coconuts. I cook it with onions blended with curry powder, and keep cooking till the onions are tender. Then I mix in the coconuts, cloves, salt, and milk. Stir for a while and it’s done. Toasted coconut can be used for garnishing.

Hameen: A combination of vegetables and meat, it has to be cooked on very slow fire till the meat gets tender. Usually chicken is used, and Jews in Kolkata follow the Baghdadi menu with some innovation. Basically, I would include chicken stuffed with khinta, rice chicken broth, tomato paste, and salt to taste. Cooking overnight like it is done traditionally is difficult, so I just time myself to serve when it is warm and the rice is almost dry.

Koobe: Very common during the Passover, the Indian way of making stuffed dumplings is not very different from the traditional way. I can get a bit adventurous just to add some flavor. I make the dough of ground rice and finely chopped chicken breasts. For stuffing, I use ground lamb, with dried rice, grated onions, with salt, pepper, and turmeric to taste.

Eggs In Beetroot Leaves: I cook garlic, grated ginger, and onions in oil for about five minutes. Then I add beetroot leaves or spinach, beat the eggs with curry powder and salt, and wait till it’s cooked.

Yogurt Sauce: This is basically similar to the tzatziki yogurt dip as an Indian adaptation. I used grated mango chutney which is sweet. Onions and garlic are heated in oil till they turn translucent. This is followed by cumin, coriander, and chilly powder. I add the chutney and tomatoes next. Yogurt goes in last. Care should be taken not to boil the ingredients.

Coconut Rice Pudding: Coconut milk is mixed with rice, cardamom, almonds, vanilla extract, cinnamon, sugar, and raisins to create a delicious kosher dessert.

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