Glossary of Kosher terms & cooking. A basic culinary dictionary containing an easy guide to Jewish food terms commonly referred to, in alphabetical order.

​In alphabetical order (47 terms)


  1. Ashkenaz: Refers to followers that originated from Eastern Europe and Russia. Their recipes foods reflect the culture from these regions.

  2. Babka: a sweet bread that contains layers of chocolate filling (called schmear in Yiddish) and is topped with a sweet crumble (called streusel in Yiddish).

  3. Batul: means to nullify. It refers to a situation when a small amount of one food is accidentally mixed into a larger amount of a different food. When the ratio is one part to 60 parts or less, the smaller ingredient is generally considered to be null and void.

  4. Bishul Yisroel or Bishul Yisrael: Applies to certain cooked foods for which a rabbinical supervisor has participated in the cooking process.

  5. Brisket: A cut of meat from the breast of lower chest of beef.

  6. Chag Sameach: “Holiday greeting in Hebrew generally used at the start of a religious holiday.

  7. Challah: A sweet, brioche-like bread that is braided and topped in sesame seeds traditionally eaten on the Sabbath or “Shabbat” which is observed every Saturday.

  8. Cholov Yisroel or Chalav Yisrael: Applies to milk or derivative products for which a rabbinical supervisor has continuously supervised the milking process.

  9. Chodosh means “new.”  It refers to the grain (wheat, barley, oats, rye, and spelt) that has not taken root before Passover. It is called “new grain.” Its consumption may be restricted until the following Passover.

  10. Chometz or Chametz: Literally: leaven. Items which are forbidden for consumption over the holiday of Passover.

  11. Dairy (or Milchig in Yiddish and Chalav in Hebrew): Applies to food items that contain actual dairy ingredients, even in very small amounts, or that have been cooked or prepared in equipment previously used for milk products (including butter, cheese, cream, and yoghurt).

  12. Fleishig: Denotes meat and poultry products, as well as dishes and utensils used in the preparation or both.

  13. Glatt Kosher: Glatt is the Yiddish word meaning smooth and refers to beef from kosher slaughtered animals whose lungs are free of adhesions. Kosher consumers who are very stringent in accepting only high standards of kosher, demand that all meat products be “glatt.” Glatt is often mistakenly used to differentiate food items which have higher standards of kashruth from those which have a more relaxed level of kosher certification. The term is used more broadly to refer to strictest levels of kosher observance in preparation of foods.

  14. Halacha: Refers to Jewish Law or “the path one walks” which is the complete body of rules and practices that Jews are bound to follow, including biblical commandments, directives of the Rabbis, and binding customs.

  15. Hashgachah (verb): Supervision, generally referring to kosher certification by a rabbi.

  16. Havdalah: A ceremony that marks the end of Shabbat and welcomes the next week

  17. Hechsher:  Certification marking found on the packages of products that have been certified as kosher.

  18. Kasher (verb): the process of making a something kosher, utensil, equipment, kitchen area. Usually applied to the salting and soaking procedures used in the production of kosher meat and poultry.

  19. Kashruth (or Kashrut and kashrus): The set of Jewish religious dietary laws.

  20. Keilim: Vessels or utensils.

  21. Kosher (adj): Hebrew word meaning proper or fit. In a food context, designating food that has been prepared and complies with all the Jewish dietary laws and approved by a rabbi.

  22. Koshering or “Kosherization”: The process of changing the status of a factory or equipment which had been used with non-kosher ingredients or products, to use with kosher ingredients or products.

  23. Mashgiach (person): Person trained to inspect and supervise the kosher status of a kosher establishment.

  24. Matzah: A flat or unleavened wafer-like bread that is baked and often eaten over the Passover holiday in remembrance of when Jewish ancestors had to travel in the desert and did not have access to yeast.

  25. Matzah Ball: Dumplings made with matzah flour and cooked in a vegetable or chicken broth. Served typically in a clear broth and one of the most well-loved Jewish recipes served around the world.

  26. Matzah Meal / Flour: Finely ground matzah bread which resembles coarse flour. It is used in recipes during Passover when yeast products and leavened breads are forbidden.

  27. Meat (or Fleishig in Yiddish and Basar in Hebrew): Applies to food items that contain actual meat ingredients, even in very small amounts, or that have been cooked or prepared in equipment previously used for meat products.

  28. Mehadrin: The most stringent level of kosher supervision.

  29. Mevushal:  Wine which has been cooked.

  30. Milchig: Dishes, utensils, and equipment used for preparing dairy products.

  31. Parve (or Parev) (adj): denotes a food that is neither meat nor dairy. Fish, eggs, and vegetables are pareve by nature.

  32. Pas Yisroel or Pat Yisrael: Applies to baked goods for which a rabbinical supervisor has participated in the baking process.

  33. Pesach (or “Passover”): This is an important Jewish springtime holiday commemorating the exodus of the Jewish nation from Egypt. Matzah or unleavened (non-rising) bread plays a central role at meals during this time to commemorate how yeast was unavailable during this difficult journey.

  34. Rabbi (person): An individual with rabbinical ordination. Rabbis who specialize in kashrut have been trained and tested in the complex areas related to food production, meat product preparation, questions of milk and meat combinations, supervision of food production personnel, and other details.

  35. Salted Beef: Cured brisket usually eaten thinly sliced with mustard and pickles.

  36. Sephardim: Refers to followers who originated in Spain and Portugal as well as Jews of Arabic and Persian backgrounds who use Sephardic liturgy. Their recipes foods reflect the culture from these regions.

  37. Shabbat (day of Sabbath): This term refers to the day of rest starting at sunset on Friday evenings and ending with the sighting of 3 stars on Saturday evenings. During the Sabbath, observers refrain from all work activities including using all modes of transport, electronics and telephones.

  38. Shabbat Shalom: A Hebrew greeting meaning “peaceful Sabbath” and used weekly.

  39. Shalom: The equivalent of “Salaam” in Arabic, this Hebrew word means “peace”.

  40. Shechita: Manner of slaughtering an animal or fowl for consumption per the Torah or first 5 books of 24 books comprising the Hebrew Bible.

  41. Shochet (person): Person trained to slaughter kosher meat and poultry according to tradition.

  42. Schnitzel: Thinly sliced meat (usually chicken) that is pounded by a meat tenderizer and is breaded with matzah meal then deep fried in oil.

  43. Shmitta: The Israeli agricultural cycle in which every seventh year the land is left for a period without being sown in order to restore its fertility or to avoid surplus production.

  44. Tevilas Keilim (verb):  Dipping or the immersion of vessels, utensils, or dishes in a pool of water or “mikvah”, before their first use.

  45. Tovel (verb): To dip or immerse in a “mikvah” or ritual bath using water from a natural source.

  46. Traiboring: The process of removing forbidden fats and veins from meat to prepare for the “koshering” salting process (see above).

  47. Treif (Treifah): Non-kosher food; the term is generally used to refer to all foods, vessels, and utensils that are not kosher. Literally, it means an animal whose flesh was torn or ripped.