Denise Phillips, author of The Jewish Mama's kitchen, gives us a sneaky peek into the traditions and cuisine of Hanukkah, the Jewish festival of lights
Festival of Dedication/Festival of Lights
This winter festival celebrates a great Jewish military victory by the Maccabbee army against the Hellenistic occupiers of the land of Israel around 150 B.C. It also celebrates a major miracle: when the Jews recaptured the sacred oil to light the candelabra for one day. Amazingly, however, the candelabra burned for eight days, until new supplies of holy oil were obtained. To commemorate the miracle of the oil, lots of fried foods such as latkes are eaten at Hanukkah. Although it is reported that the Maccabbee soldiers ate latkes on the battlefields, they were not the latkes of today, as potatoes were not available until the 16th century. They were most likely made from cheese, vegetables or fruits.
These potato pancakes, called latkes, are most often enjoyed at Hanukkah, when the family gathers together to light the menorah candles, exchange gifts and play Hanukkah games. I like to make 'mini' pancakes, which the children love to dip into apple sauce. Latkes are not just for Hanukkah, however. They go well with most meals, including, cold meats, fried fish and breakfasts or brunches that include fried eggs. Eat them sweet, sprinkled with caster sugar and topped with apple sauce and soured cream (milchik) or non-dairy soured cream substitute (parev).
contains no meat or dairy products/Passover friendly/can be made in advance/can be frozen up to one month
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes
1kg potatoes, peeled 1 small onion, peeled 2 large eggs, lightly beaten 3 tablespoons fine-ground matzo meal (or self-raising flour, during times other than Passover) Salt Freshly ground black pepper About 1 litre vegetable oil
Excerpted from The Jewish Mama's Kitchen by Denise Phillips priced (MQ Publications Limited, £14.99)