How A Mumbai Cook Prepares For Rosh Hashanah

Suneka (left) adds ‘chick’ (wheat gluten) to coconut milk to make Sharona Hayeems’s sweet milk custard called halwa.

This is part one of a two-part series.

On the morning of Rosh Hashanah Eve 2016, I met Sharona Hayeems, a local Indian Jewish caterer, at her home in Dadar, a neighborhood in Mumbai where some of the remaining 4,500 Indian Jews in India still live. I was there to spend some time watching her cook for Rosh Hashanah.

I was introduced to Hayeems, a Bene Israel (Sons of Israel) Indian Jew, by the inimitable Elijah Jacob, the India executive director of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (AJDC). Hayeems prepares kosher meals for Meals on Wheels, a program subsidized by the AJDC and Indian Joint Trust, which feeds the less fortunate in the Jewish community throughout the year, according to David Kumar, India AJDC welfare manager

Sharona (who likes to be called Sharon) Hayeem’s family is originally from the Konkan coast, just south of Mumbai, where the Bene Israel community settled when they first washed ashore in India some 2000 years ago. In pursuit of work, the family found itself in Karachi, Pakistan, where Hayeems was born in 1947. The same year, during partition, is when both India and Pakistan gained independence from the British. Hayeems family moved to India, as many did after the partition, and settled in Kalka, Himachal Pradesh, a northern Indian state. In 1974, she got married in Mumbai and settled in Dadar, where she’s lived ever since.

 

Originally published here: https://forward.com/food/382673/how-a-mumbai-cook-prepares-for-rosh-hashanah/

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