A favorite Hanukkah food is latkes,or
potato pancakes. Originally, the pancakes were
made of cheese. Eventually, the custom grew to incorporate eating pancakes
of all kinds.
During the Middle Ages, Jews explained
this custom by connecting it with the story of
Judith, which they linked with the story of Hanukkah.
Judith, according to legend, was a
daughter of the Hasmoneans. She fed cheese to the
leader of the enemies of the Jews. He was made thirsty
by the cheese and began to drink much wine. When
he grew quite drunk she cut off his head. For this
reason, it was said, Jews eat cheese delicacies
We eat latkes (potato pancakes) because
they are cooked in oil and thus remind us of the
of the single cruse [pitcher of oil]. Rabbi Solomon
Freehof, a great contemporary Jewish scholar, has
hypothesized that the eating of latkes may have grown
out of an old custom of eating milchig (dairy) foods
on Hanukkah. Milchig foods evolved into milchig pancakes
and then into latkes, possibly because the main potato
crop became available about the time of Hanukkah.
No-one knows for certain how the association began,
but for anyone who feasts on latkes at Hanukkah time,
a historical rationale is unnecessary.
12 large potatoes, grated
3 medium onions, grated
4 eggs, beaten lightly
5 tbs. flour
3 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
Oil for deep frying
The secret to great latkes is to
remove as much liquid from the potatoes
and onions as possible. Put the
grated potatoes in a clean tea towel
and squeeze the liquid out of the
mixture. Do the same for the grated
onions. Combine all the ingredients
and mix together well by hand. In
a heavy skillet, put a 3/4" deep
layer of oil. Heat until sizzling.
Form individual pancakes by hand
and carefully slide into the pan
using a slotted spatula. Fill the
pan, but leave room between the
pancakes. When the latkes are nicely
browned on one side, turn carefully
and cook until browned on the other
side and crisp on the edges. Remove
with a spatula and place on paper
towels. Let the excess grease drain
onto the paper towel. Serve immediately
for the best taste. You can keep
the latkes hot in a warm oven. Serve
with sour cream or applesauce, or
sprinkle with granulated sugar.
1 cup apple juice
4 oz. margarine (1 stick)
oil for frying
1 cup flour
Boil apple juice and add
margarine stirring until melted. Keeping
the pan on the burner, add flour until
mixture forms a ball and doesnt
stick to the sides of the pan. Remove
from burner and beat in eggs one at
a time. Heat the oil in a deep fryer,
wok, or large frying pan. Once oil is
hot, the dough can be dropped by teaspoons
into hot oil. Fry until golden brown
making sure that the dough balls puff
and are cooked evenly. Remove from oil
with strainer and drain on paper towels.
Serve hot with assorted dips: cinnamon
sugar, powdered sugar, heated raspberry
preserves, hot chocolate sauce, hot
honey and chopped nuts, heated marmalade
with shredded coconut.
1 Hersheys kiss
1 3" licorice stick or toothpick
Assemble dreidel by pushing the licorice
stick or toothpick through the marshmallow.
Attach the chocolate kiss to the marshmallow
with some Icing. Use the remainder of the
icing to write the letters nun, gimel,
hei, and shin on each side of the marshmallow.
It may not spin well, but it sure does taste
1 package dry yeast
4 tbs. sugar
3/4 cup lukewarm milk
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
pinch of salt
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 eggs, separated
2 tbs. butter, softened
apricot or strawberry preserves
Mix together the yeast,
2 tablespoons of the sugar, and the milk.
Let sit to make sure it bubbles. Sift the
flour and mix it with the remaining sugar,
salt, cinnamon, egg yolks, and the yeast
Knead the dough until it
forms a ball. Add the butter or margarine.
Knead some more, until the butter is well
absorbed. Cover with a towel and let rise
overnight in the refrigerator.
The next day, roll out the
dough to a thickness of 1/8 inch. Cut the
dough into 24 rounds with a juice glass, or
any object about 2 inches in diameter. Take
1/2 teaspoon of preserves and place in center
of 12 rounds. Top with the other 12. Press
down at edges, sealing with egg whites. Crimping
with the thumb and second finger is best.
Let rise for about 30 minutes.
Heat 2 inches of oil to about 375 degrees.
Drop the doughnuts into the hot oil, about
5 at a time. Turn to brown on both sides.
Drain on paper towels. Roll the doughnuts
From All about Jewish Holidays
and Customs by Morris Epstein. Reprinted
You may want to mix up your Hanukkah cooking with recipes incorporating the flavors of other traditions.
Indian Sweet Potato Curry Pancakes
1 large sweet potato, peeled and coarsely grated
1/2 cup white flour
1 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
dash cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon salt
freshly ground pepper
3 large eggs*, beaten
1/4 cup whole milk
1/4 to 1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil (for frying)
2 large mangoes, cubed
1. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, sugars, baking powder, cayenne pepper, curry powder, cumin, salt and black pepper.
2. Add the eggs* and milk to the dry ingredients to make a stiff batter. Add the potatoes and mix (the batter should be moist but not runny; if too stiff, add a little more milk.)
3. Heat 2 to 3 tablespoons of oil in a large frying for about 1 to 1 1/2 minutes. Drop two heaping tablespoons of the potato batter into the hot pan and flatten down with the back of a spatula. Continue in this manner so that you are frying 3 to 4 pancakes at a time. Continue to cook over medium-high heat for several minutes until all of the pancakes are golden on each side. Place fried pancake onto a plate covered with a paper towel to absorb excess oil. Serve hot sprinkled with a dash of cinnamon and cubed mango chunks or a dollop of apple sauce and/or sour cream.
Note: If you want to stretch the batter a bit and make more pancakes with less potatoes, add another egg or two
Yield: Serves 4 to 6 ( Makes 20 three-inch pancakes)
This recipe is used with the generous permission of Jennifer Abadi. Jennifer teaches cooking classes in New York City. Her website is A Fistful of Lentils.
Other Traditions: Gelt,