Judaism in Kerala

Diet and restrictions

Among the permitted types of meat, there are further restrictions.  Animals that have died of natural causes or have been torn to shreds are not fit for human consumption.   Even when these conditions are met, three things have to be avoided at all costs – all blood, certain sinews and certain fats.  These laws, however, are not applicable to fish meat.

The manner of slaughtering also finds elaborate mention in the Scriptures and the devout are enjoined to follow it strictly.   The knife has to be so sharp that the killing can be very quick and the death of the animal, instantaneous.  It should be applied at the neck region, and the cut should be through the veins, the arteries and the windpipe.  One single, fluid stroke of the knife should suffice to do the deed, without the application of any further pressure.  Scientifically analysed, this is the best way to drain blood immediately from the brain whereby all sensation of pain is removed in the quickest possible manner. 

Meat thus sourced should not be mixed with milk and dairy products, or cooked, served or eaten together.  While eating meat and milk products, they may be sufficiently spaced in time.  Laws control the use of cooking and serving vessels as well.  Those used for cooking, earthen or ceramic, are porous and may retain animal juices within their pores even after washing.  Therefore they should not be mixed with serving vessels or even washed together.  A separate set of dishes is recommended for use during festivals like Pessah (the Jewish Festival of Freedom). Jews are not supposed to work or even make food during Sabbath (the Day of Rest from Friday evening to Saturday evening). 

As with the customs and the language, the Jews of Kerala have also come to embrace the cuisine of their adopted land. This union of culinary tastes has produced several interesting dishes that are different from both Kerala and Israeli preparations characterized by the use of curry leaves, spices, onions and coconut. Today, a few Israeli women of the Cochin Jew community have united to popularize their unique culinary heritage.