The classic Jewish houses at Kochi exude warmth of the rich Jewish culture and rightly honour their unique traditions. These houses are prime examples of impeccable architectural styles which give importance to comfort, aesthetics, and elegance. The wooden ceilings and the vintage staircase are eye catching features in a Jewish house. Exquisite wooden furniture designed in traditional styles adorns the interiors of these households.
The Koder House in Fort Kochi built by Samuel Koder in the eighteenth century was once home to the illustrious Koder family. This Jewish house became the centre of activities when Jews visited Kochi in large numbers for trade. The ships which reached the Fort Kochi coast looked for this elegant building painted in a distinct ruby red hue to make sure that they have reached their destination. After the death of Samuel Koder, the Koder house was turned into a hotel.
The Menorah restaurant which serves authentic Jewish delicacies and other cuisines functions on the ground floor. The Menorah is described in the Torah as the ancient Hebrew lamp stand made of pure gold. Candles can be lighted on the six branches with exquisite designs on either side of the lamp stand and also on the centre. This seven-lamp Menorah is held with high reverence and is lighted when the Jews recite their prayers. The hotel functions by preserving the rooms and interiors of this 208 years old building without losing its traditional allure.
The Koder House which functions near the Fort Kochi children’s park is still used as a landmark by the visitors who throng the town. It is now owned by Kozhikode native Ricky Raj who vows to retain the old world charm of the heritage building. As per the regulations of the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), every feature, including the colour of the exteriors, of the buildings included in the heritage list should be retained as it is.
Earlier when the Jewish lords visited Kerala, they would only reside at the prestigious Koder house. This heritage household has also hosted many ambassadors, presidents, governors, viceroys and other eminent personalities from around the world. The tastefully done rooms in the Koder house are elegant and luxurious. The centuries old furniture with its traditional designs adds to the old world charm of these rooms.
Even today, the Jews who land in Kochi would head straight to the Menorah restaurant to relish the traditional Jewish dishes. The Jewish cuisine is rich and diverse, and has been shaped by the Jewish dietary laws. They usually don’t differentiate dishes between breakfast, lunch or dinner. The pastel (deep fried rice flour packets filled with stuffing which include meat, vegetable or egg) is a popular Jewish dish and is served at the Menorah restaurant in Fort Kochi.