Each Jewish festival has its own special food, loaded with symbolism and distinctive flavours. Latkes are crispy potato pancakes served traditionally at Hanukkah time when fried foods are favoured.
Hanukkah commemorates the rededication during the 2nd century BCE of the Second Temple in Jerusalem. Even though there was only enough oil to keep the candles of the Temple’s menorah (candelabra) burning for a single day, the flames miraculously continued to burn for eight nights. Today, Jewish people celebrate Hanukkah for eight nights and light a menorah with eight branches. On the first night, one candle is kindled, two on the second, and so on.
The secret of the perfect crispy latke is to ensure all surplus liquid has been squeezed out of the grated potato and onion before frying, and the oil in the frying pan is piping hot. This will guarantee you latkes that are not soggy or greasy. My addition of baking powder gives them a lighter texture.
Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 15 minutes
Serves: 4-6 people
700g British Maris Piper potatoes – peeled and grated
1 large onion – peeled and grated
150g self-raising flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Vegetable oil – for frying
3 tablespoons apple sauce
1 tablespoon horseradish sauce
Optional – slithers of smoked salmon and sprigs of fresh dill
Grate the potatoes and onions either by hand or using a food processor.
Squeeze the grated potatoes and onions dry with some kitchen roll or a clean dish cloth. Do this twice for best results. Put into a large mixing bowl.
Stir in the eggs, flour and baking powder. Season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Heat the oil in a shallow frying pan so that it covers the base about 1cm / ½ inch. (I line my frying pan with baking paper, add the oil and then fry the mixture to prevent it from sticking!)
When the oil is piping hot, add half the mixture, spreading it evenly to the edges of the pan. Fry on both sides until golden brown. Remove the first latke and then repeat the process again using the remaining mixture. It is now two layers, and you can add a filling or serve separately.
Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
Preheat the oven to 200°C / 400°F / Gas Mark 6. Heat your latke in a warm oven for 10 minutes.
To serve the stylish way: serve with apple and horseradish sauce.
Optional garnish: slithers of smoked salmon and sprigs of fresh dill.