They’re sometimes greasy, sometimes salty and soggy, and they are fried in oil. They’re high in calories—sometimes, high in fat—sometimes; high in cholesterol—sometimes. But they’re oh, so good! They are Chanukah potato pancakes, otherwise known as latkes, in what we think is Yiddish, or as levivot in Hebrew.
With all the oil used for frying, latkes may be considered an unhealthy food. Yet, each Chanukah, many of us who are staunch-hearted and old-fashioned spend time grating potatoes by hand, always accidentally suffering at least one scraped finger. The more modern among us risk coming out with liquid mush by using a food processor or blender.
Why do we keep making these little pancakes year after year? Why do we eat them for Chanukah in the first place? As Tevye says, “It’s tradition!”
My Mom’s Classic Latkes
- 6 peeled potatoes
- 1 medium onion
- 2 eggs
- 1 ½ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp pepper
- ½ cup flour
1. Grate potatoes and onion into a bowl or chop with blender or food processor.
2. Add eggs, salt, pepper and flour and blend.
3. Heat oil in a frying pan. Drop batter by tablespoon around pan. Fry until brown on both sides. Drain on paper towels.
Note: This recipe can also be used to make potato kugel by pouring batter into a greased casserole and baking in 350-degree oven for 45 minutes.
- 8-10 servings
- 3 pounds coarsely grated potatoes
- 1 coarsely grated onion
- 1/3 cup flour
- ½ tsp baking powder
- 1 cup egg substitute or
- 2 eggs plus 4 whites
- salt and pepper to taste
- olive oil spray
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place nonstick baking sheets in oven to heat.
2. Drain off as much liquid as possible from bowl with grated potatoes and onion.
3. Add flour, baking powder, eggs or egg substitute, salt and pepper and blend.
4. Spray baking sheet with oil. Spoon small mounds of potato mixture onto baking sheets.
Bake until brown on one side then flip to other side, making sure to place them where there is oil.
Transfer to a platter and serve at once.
Sybil Kaplan is a journalist, author, compiler/editor of nine kosher cookbooks (working on a 10th) and food writer for North American Jewish publications, who lives in Jerusalem where she leads weekly walks of the Jewish food market, Machaneh Yehudah, in English, and writes the restaurant features for Janglo.net, the oldest, largest website for English speakers.