Sunday, November 22, 2009

Research on Cochin Jewish Cuisine

For my research topic I chose Cochin Jewish cuisine. For that I had started collecting the data for that I got the verbal help from Sarah Auntie including the kashurath law and some recipes and a week before I got a printed recipes from Queenie Auntie, which include the dishes like Tuna Pastel, Jewish capsicum chicken etc. I even plan for the a portion to kept for the topic similarities in malabari Jewish and Muslim cuisine , that starts from the strict observance of dietary law to the identical dishes with different names
Here you can see the pictures of Sarah Auntie with Kadathala Pastel (egg mixture wrapped kadathala i.e. a thin rice flour pan cake) in the grill pan.


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Mikewind Dale said...

It is very heartening to see that even with the Jewish community having almost entirely emmigrated to Israel, nevertheless, the religious tolerance persists!

(I am an Orthodox Jew, originally from Silver Spring, Maryland, near Washington, D. C., but I now live in Petah Tiqwa, Israel, near Tel Aviv.)

I am curious about something. If the Malabari Jews (as opposed to the Paradesis) came to Cochin around 68 CE (AD), after the destruction of the Second Temple, what were their halakhic traditions? The Mishnah was not written until 200 CE, and the Talmud around 500 CE, so the Malabaris would not have had either at the time of their migration.

Everything I've read about the Cochinis speaks of their learning Tanakh and ta'amei ha-miqra (טעמי המקרה - cantillation - the musical tune used to read the Torah in synagogue), but I cannot find anything about their knowledge of halakhah.

Benjamin of Tudela, a 12th century Jewish traveler, had this to say about the Cochinis (online here): "And throughout the island, including ail the towns there, live several thousand Israelites. The inhabitants are all black, and the Jews also. The latter are good and benevolent. They know the law of Moses and the prophets, and to a small extent the Talmud and Halacha."

So did the Cochinis simply have an oral mesorah (tradition), passed down by teachers from whatever traditions they had learned in Israel before the Temple was destroyed? Did they ever come to possess things like the Mishnah, Talmud, Mishneh Torah (Maimonides), Shulhan Arukh (Code of Jewish Law), etc.?

The Paradesis, having come from Spain and Portugal and Holland in the 16th century, might have possessed some of these halakhic texts. (The Shulhan Arukh hadn't been written yet, but the Mishnah, Talmud, and Rambam would have been available to them, as well as the entire set of literature and traditions up to that point in history, known as the rishonim, "early ones", as opposed to the aharonim, "later ones", the division between earlier and later occurring around the 16th century, with the expulsion from Spain.) Did they bring these things to Cochin? Did the Malabaris adopt them from the Paradesis, or did the two communities maintain two separate halakhic traditions?

Charles said...

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