Sunday, August 28, 2005

Kosher Inspection Service - India

The Kosher Inspection Service of India is run by Rabbi Avraham Binyamin, a Rabbi in Mumbai (Bombay). There are several vegetarian products that carry his hashgacha, including food service on ElAl flights from Mumbai and Delhi, and a couple of labels that can be found in Miami and on the Internet.

I spoke with Rabbi Binyamin, who "appears" to be acceptably observant. His children are at Y.U. and Stern, if that means anything, and from our conversation sounds completely dati. He assured me that the companies with which he deals are completely vegetarian, as dictated by Indian law, and that no meat products are ever present. In fact, he was about to leave for an unannounced inspection of one of the plants, and a rice plant. He asked that if I ever had any doubts or questions that I could contact him or his son at Y.U.. And, he plans to call me when in the States to spend the chagim with his children in New York. (Unfortunately, with the horrible flooding recently in Mumbai, he lost his house and car.)
(Dr. Nathan Katz - F.I.U. Prof. of Religion - who is a specialist in the Jewish communities of India received assurances from the community in Cochin that Rabbi Binyamin may be relied upon in matters of kashrut. Dr. Katz also commented that the Cochin community is machmer.)
Currently, I have found two products available in Miami with his hashgacha, which I will review below. The first was at Epicure where they have a new, large display of ready-to-eat dishes being marketed under the name of Kohinoor; not all of the products on display have a hechsher. Many also display an OV - Vegetarian mark, which generally indicates supervision from the Vaad Hoeir of St. Louis; they have said that this is unauthorized, and that they will pursue an order to cease-and-desist. The second product is sold under the name of Tasty Bite and is available at Wild Oats or on-line at, though only the Indian products, and probably at other health food stores.

Please feel free to contact me to discuss in more detail.

Kohinoor - Mughlai Kofta Curry with Peas Pulao
Fritters made of Indian cottage cheese in a thick gravy along with peas pulao (pre-cooked basmati rice sprinkled with fresh garden peas)

The first point to be aware of is that although the product is labeled 100% Natural/No Preservatives, it contains 2120 mg. of sodium, unless that's a misprint.
Taste: Very good, not salty (surprisingly); well seasoned, not too.
Price: $7
Probably not enough if you're very hungry. I added half a container of Bombay Potatoes (see below)

N.B. This product, with others, is available at Epicure
Tasty Bite - Bombay Potatoes
Potatoes and chick peas in sauce of tomatoes, onions and spices
Taste: Excellent, especially if you like some heat
Price: $3.40
Again, not enough for a meal, but a good side.
Tasty Bite - Spinach Dal and Rice
Spinach cooked with yellow lentils
Taste: The Dal was very good; the rice had a...strange flavor. Together not bad but the rice detracted somewhat. The seasoning was good, not too hot. I added a chutney to improve the taste.
Price: $3.40
Packaging: The Tasty Bite "dinners" with rice come in a microwavable container and include a spoon.
Much less sodium that the Kohinoor product above: 600mg
Tasty Bite - Peas Paneer and Basmati Rice
Green peas and Paneer cheese in sauce
Taste: In this case, the rice tasted fine, but the Peas Paneer, which has 491mg of sodium was a bit bland; with added salt, very good.
Price: $3.40
N.B. The Tasty Bite products are available from Wild Oats, and probably other health food stores, as well as (only Indian products)
Finally, all of the above would have been nicely rounded out by some traditional nan. Fortunately, it can be ordered from the Tasty Bite web site, under Breads. It's produced by Kontos Foods and is certified by the OK.


Blogger ashuber said...

I picked up a jar of peanut butter with this hashgacha at a dollar store in west palm beach. I was going to send it into Kashrus magazine for my free one year subscription (they give one for anyone who finds a hashgacha that isn't in their catalog). But alas, they already knew about it. I don't think I ever ate the peanut butter

12:49 AM  
Blogger rivka said...

thanks for the info
i just wonder why u dont mantion
that many off the prudocts r dairy
some off just said kosher
and u have to look in the ingridents list to see that they r dairy


4:30 PM  
Blogger eli said...

I just bought a package of Kohinoor Rice & Curry. It IS dairy, I will try it tomorrow. I wish that there was a web site of the baal machshir to confirm that this item is indeed one that he gives hashgacha on. It seems tht they have no problem putting unauthorized labels on products in asian countries.

7:56 PM  
Blogger jkkosher buzz said...

Nice Information!

Thanks for sharing with us...

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1:41 PM  
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5:33 AM  
Blogger KyleB said...

Is this symbol certified by CRC yet? I don't see it on their site and my Rabbi said it is not a valid symbol either (probably based on CRC). If it is considered kosher by strict orthodox standards is there anyone credible in the US that can back this up?

10:27 AM  
Blogger Tzvi said...

I saw this hechsher on an American Airlines flight, where they served a snack that was chips and chumus. The chumus came from Jordan and had this hechsher on it.

3:48 PM  

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