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She helped them get their enterprise off the ground four years ago this month, and, with the assistance of Partnership 2000 and the Jewish Agency, the women of Nevatim started holding cooking workshops for Taglit-Birthright Israel and other youth groups, as well as hosting meals for visitors.
In addition to providing traditional meals for groups from the United States and Canada a few times a year, they cater mainly to groups from Israel.
Hubba—semolina dumplings filled with minced chicken breast, onions, cabbage, celery, and coriander—looked like the Cochin version of Iraqi kubbeh.
The women were quick to confirm that many of these dishes did arrive in Cochin from faraway places and were adapted to suit the local produce.
Tourists, from Israel and abroad, visit Nevatim for its beautiful synagogue, cultural center, and museum, as well as for the traditional food cooked and served by the women of Matamey Cochin.
“In India the two communities lived separately, and it’s the same in Israel.
Recently the Indian ambassador initiated a convention of all Indian Jews in Israel and brought all of us together for the first time, but generally there is no connection between the groups.” After urging me to crumble a curry leaf—fresh from the curry tree that grows in Nehemia’s garden—in order to smell its unique aroma, the women started bringing various traditional dishes to the table, most of which were prepared with curry leaves, which Cochinis call .
Not only does their cuisine differ from Indian food from other areas, it differs from Hindu cooking in Cochin, too.
First of all, it is kosher and devoid of dairy products (the closest you get is coconut milk), and some dishes are strictly Jewish and don’t exist in the local Hindu menu at all.
Matamey Cochin (“Cochin delicacies”) is a business operated by eight local women between the ages of 55 and 65 who host Cochin-style meals in their homes or in the local hospitality tent, for groups who make reservations.