Tonight is the first night of Hanukkah, the Jewish Festival of Lights and recognition of miracles. It’s not a holiday we take part in but it’s something we’ve observed by way of taking an interest in other cultures and celebrations and finding out more about them.
We would always visit the Christmas Markets this time of year when the children were little and whilst counting Christmas tree lights, they became intrigued by the sight of the lit menorahs (or Hannukkiah) in the windows of the houses in the Jewish part of Manchester. We did our our own research to learn what Hanukkah actually was, how it was celebrated and used it as an excuse to try some of the food eaten during the festivities.
Doughnuts and Potato Latkes are the most widely eaten foods during Hanukkah; fried foods being popular to commemorate the oil used to light the temple menorah. The story goes that when Judah and the Maccabees were rebuilding the Temple that King Antiochus had destroyed, they found a menorah with only enough oil to keep the lamp lit for one day. It stayed lit for eight full days and this miracle is celebrated by foods cooked in oil.
We’re sampling some latkes tonight by way of trying foods eaten by other cultures but the conversations around the reasons behind it also prompt a wider understanding.
Ingredients (serves 4, makes approx 8 cakes):
- Approx 500g (around 4 medium sized) white potatoes
- 1 x onion, finely sliced
- 2 x eggs, beaten
- 3 x tbsp flour
Peel and grate the potato into cold water to prevent it from colouring. Squeeze out any excess water and wring it out in a clean tea towel.
Fry the onion until soft but not coloured then combine with the grated potato, egg and flour. Season and mix well, then scoop out in a small bowl or American 1/3 cup measurement.
Fry for a few minutes on either side in plenty of olive oil to ensure the potato cakes colour and turn crispy.
We served our potato latkes with lentil bolognese to provide a full meal but we also tried them with the traditional accompaniment of apple sauce. Mathilde went back for second helpings.