Nice to meet you,
My name is Ilanit Menachem and welcome to my blog: Chipappam!
I am not one of those who sat in my mother's or grandmother's kitchen on the counter and learned to cook, on the contrary, my childhood memory related to the kitchen and food is a very ambulatory memory.
On the one hand, I was a little girl who spent a lot of time at my grandparents' house in Moshav, during the holidays, and woke up at 4 in the morning angry at the noise of the pots in the kitchen and didn't understand why my grandmother woke up so early to cook?
I remember my grandfather eating a plate of rice with fish at 6 in the morning before he went to work.
I remember that before Passover a butcher would come to slaughter a lamb, and my grandfather would sit for hours cutting the meat into cubes, and I was
shocked by the whole situation, and kept my distance from the mirrors. And I remember that at a very young age I was forced to eat Eshel with white cheese (yes, there used to be such a thing!) and that I have an unresolved issue with the white of the egg - which to this day I am unable to eat.
On the other hand, I remember wonderful reasons! My grandmother was the champion of cooking, everything that came out under her hands was food that cannot be described in words. She cooked fine Cochin food but not only. She learned to make Kovna from her Yemenite neighbor, and knew how to make a Jerusalem mix that to this day I have never tasted like anywhere, and she even made an Ashkenazi tshulant with an amazing kugel that I have no idea where she learned to make, and she made cheese borax that to this day I have not been able to recreate.
I loved going with her to the markets in Tel Aviv, Petah Tikva or Ramla. We would carry around with two huge plastic baskets of all the goodness of the market. And she would always treat me to a falafel dish or something else delicious.
From my grandfather I learned that good food always starts with fine ingredients. He would always buy the best fish, the most beautiful vegetables and fruits, there is no room for compromise. And there was always abundance, which God forbid will never be lacking. Grandfather loved mangoes the most, every summer there were boxes of mangoes and he made sure to peel them with a special sharp knife with all the patience so as not to damage the texture. I once asked him why he doesn't use a peeler? Why does he only use a knife? He just gave me a look that made me realize that mango has rules that must not be broken.
And I remember the holiday season. You can say that the Cochins lived from holiday to holiday. Saturdays and holidays this was the most important thing. Best food was during the holidays! what a pleasure! lots of colors, textures, flavors, just one big celebration.
But I was far away from kitchen and cooking matters, and always the option of playing treasure hunt or just walking around the moshav and the fields, or watching those episodes of the "Lost islands" were a much more interesting option for me than the noise of the kitchen.
My friendship with the kitchen began when I got married and gave birth to Yotam and Neta. Step by step I learned to make all kinds of dishes, I tried, and failed quite a bit, but I had the desire and also the love for the food aesthetics , and I used to invest a lot in it, because as I taught the children - you eat with your eyes first!
I have learned to make very few Cochin dishes and never had that willing to learn more. It was a world that belonged to memories from grandma and nothing more.
I grew up as an Israeli girl in all kind of intents and purposes. In my parents home my mom mostly cooked Israeli food: schnitzel, spaghetti, chips, etc. I also did not know how to speak the Malayalam language. They only spoke to me in Hebrew. Nobody talked to me about India, I didn't grow up on heritage stories. India was closed behind a screen that not only did I not have access to, it also did not interest me or attract me at all. The story of the Cochin Jewish community is a story that I have never been told and I didn't know I'm suppose to ask.
Then my grandfather passed away.
I was very close to my grandfather. He was a great person and I always admired him. Grandfather was the cantor of the community in Moshav. I always perceived him as the great, strong and heroic grandfather. I never knew what a magnifisent life story was hidden behind this huge man. He didn't tell and I didn't ask. I took it for granted.
Grandpa was a cantor who vibrated hearts with his sweet voice. The prayers in the synagogue during the holidays were one big excitement for everyone who had the privilege of hearing his voice, until he said "I can't do it anymore" and passed the chanting baton. Grandfather realized that he had a social responsibility to pass on the legacy. He approached to the recording studio, and recorded all the prayers and hymns with the special melodies of the community, for the sake of future generations, and distributed the CDs in all synagogues throughout the country and to anyone who needed them.
It was very difficult for me when he passed away because he was a very significant figure for me. The longings sent me to the kitchen, and I started preparing Cochin dishes according to the few recipes I had. At that time, the edification of groups on social networks began and with it also a group of people from Cochin "Cochin is my brother". I started posting pictures of the foods I made there, which resulted in a lot of feedback from many people, because these pictures brought them back to their childhood, and the pictures left them want to taste for more.
The discussion that developed in the group made me realize that the death of my grandfather marks the disappearance of the generation of immigrants from Cochin. Suddenly I was struck by the consciousness and the realization that I have minimal knowledge about the community, about the heritage, about the history. That I know almost nothing about my grandparents, about their life in Cochin, about their immigration story, that I never asked questions that are bothering me so much now that I'm an adult, but I don't have anyone to ask no longer .
A blog was born
Then I decided to start the blog
I collected recipes from everyone I knew, I made a lot of attempts to turn the "a little" , and "by eye" into exact quantities. I recuptured a lot of lost recipes, and childhood tastes that have already been forgotten.
The blog exposed me to people from all over the world, I participated in cooking competitions, and the stories behind the food led me to explore and question and discover a whole world and heritage that I did not know. Following the blog, I had the need to take a roots trip to Cochin in India, a trip that I will tell about in a separate post.
Chipappam, is the name of a snack that Cochin Jews used to eat on holidays. It was also my grandparents favorite snack, so I decided to use it for naming the blog, and cherish the blog to their memory and to the memory of all immigrants from the Cochin Jewish community, who are no longer with us, but left us with the taste of the wonderful food.
With the establishment of the State of Israel, all members of the community fulfil the Zionizm dream and all of them immigrated to Israel.
Over the years, the amalgamation of the so-called Ingathering of the Jewish exiles, that is typical in the Israeli society, did not pass over the members of the Cochin community who mingled within the Israeli melting pot, and as a result, in one or two generations it will bring to an end a chapter in the history of the oldest Jewish community in the world, which existed for over 3000 years.
This blog is a collection of recipes of a special culinary heritage and glorious tradition, which uses basic ingredients and produces wonderful flavors with them.
For a decade, thousands of people shared with me photos of foods they made from the recipes on the blog, and through food, an entire generation born and raised in Israel, opened the curtain that the same generation of immigrants closed after it. The whole new Israeli born generation began to ask questions, to search for identity, to explore history. An entire young generation is today returning a crown to its former glory.
Twardes the blog 10th birthday, I decided it's about time to step up and renew and upgraded it to a modern website, add more recipes, produce videos, and make the recipes more accessible and adapt them to today's social media world, for the benefit of future generations.
There were also thoughts about whether to rebrand the name and call the site by a different name, and after lot of thoughts I decided to stick with the good old name "Chipappam".
What will you find on the site?
The site has all kinds of recipes , and everyone can find something to cook: meat and chicken dishes, pastries, vegetable dishes, vegetarian food, vegan food, gluten-free, and more.
All recipes have been translated into English/Hebrew and contain exact amounts. Today you can easily find all the spices and ingredients easily in all markets and stores
This site is intended for anyone who wants to return to the flavors and regions of their childhood, to memories from home, for Indian food lovers and foodies general, for anyone who wants to get to know new flavors, and experience an adventure of intoxicating aromas, colorful flavors, spiciness vs. sweetness, simple ingredients, vs. less knowen raw ingredients The site will take you on a rich and fascinating culinary journey.
Thanks to my dear family, my husband, and my children and thier friends, who encouraged, tasted and helped, and are most proud of their mother and their heritage.
Thanks to my grandparents who left me wonderful food memories, and thanks to them we are here.