The Festival of Fried Food
The festive season has always been an interesting time for us, a time where Christmas (well, the Christmas ‘season’ more than Christmas itself) and Chanukah coincide. We do enjoy the traditional Christmas foods – the plum pudding, Christmas cake and (our favourite!) mince pies but it is really the simple Chanukah ‘latkes’ that win the family over every year.
Chanukah, sometimes called the ‘festival of light’, starts on the 18th December this year.
It commemorates the miracle of the oil back in the time of the destruction of the first temple (around 165 BCE) when there was only enough of the ritual oil to light the sacred candle for one day, but miraculously it lasted for 8 days – until the oil was able to be replenished. To celebrate this miracle we light the special candelabra (chanukiah).
Like we do for many of the Jewish festivals, we celebrate by eating a particular type of food. We love how it is always about the food! This time it is food that has been fried in oil. It is certainly not the festival to be avoiding fried foods! In our family, we make potato latkes (small potato cakes, like roesti) and jam (jelly) donuts. We have the most AMAZING recipe for cinnamon sugar doughnuts in The Feast Goes On.
And in our new book, Now for Something Sweet, we have a gorgeous Hot Jam Doughnut recipe that is irresistible.
But latkes (potato pancakes) are not only made over Chanukah. In fact, we make them in the weeks (errr…months) leading up to Chanukah…just to practice, and because we absolutely adore them! We eat them just with a little salt, or with smoked salmon. It has now become a family favourite to eat them salmon pastrami (recipe in The Feast Goes On) and horseradish creme fraiche.
In our new book, Now for Something Sweet, we have a spiced up version of latkes, Potato Bhaji Latkes.
This recipe for simple latkes is from our second book, “The Feast Goes On“
- 600 grams desiree (or frying) potatoes
- 2 eggs lightly beaten
- 1 heaped tablespoon plain flour (all purpose) flour optional
- sea salt
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- Peel and grate the potatoes. Place in a colander for 15 minutes to drain. Squeeze the grated potato with your hands to remove any liquid. Wrap and then wring in a tea towel (dish towel) or paper tower to remove any residudal liquid.
- Tip the potato into a large bowl. Add the eggs and flour, if using, then season generously with salt and pepper. Mix well.
- Add enough oil to a large frying pan to reach a depth of about 5 mm - 1 cm (1/4 - 1/2 inch). When the oil is hot, carefully add teaspoons of the potato mixture to make small round potato cakes. Flatten them slightly. Fry the latkes over medium heat for a few minutes on each side until deep golden brown. Drain on paper towel.
- Serve hot or at room temperature with salmon pastrami and horseradish creme fraiche.