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Rice (ari in Judeo-Malayalam) has always been the staple food of the tiny community of Jews from the erstwhile Kingdom of Cochin in Kerala. Rice also has spiritual and religious connotations, because of its association with weddings, festivals and other life cycle events. Kerala is famous for its scenic rice paddies and abundant produce and the Jews used the grain to create scores of dishes. The grain is kosher and not forbidden for Cochinis (as they are called in Israel) even during Passover, under a religious dispensation given to them by religious authorities! Rice takes on many incarnations throughout the day in In Cochini Jewish homes in Israel and Kerala, and continues to be the main fare, with side dishes made according to ages-old recipes. In the early days of their settlement in Israel, the Cochinis hoarded their rations of margarine, olives and wheat to barter these in the kibbutzes with Ashkenazi or European settlers in return for rice for their Shabbat meals. In the 20th century, however, wheat-based breads began to make inroads into Cochin kitchens

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