Latkes! The most well known traditional dish for Hanukkah. These are potato pancakes that have been made by Ashkenazie (Eastern European) Jews since the mid - 1800 based on an older variant of the dish that goes back to at least the Middle Ages.
In Israel as I tell in another recipe, traditionally jelly doughnuts are the most popular but most families will be serving latkes as well. Many will be making them at home. Latkes is the Yiddish word for these particular types of potato pancakes. In Hebrew they are called levivot.
They are fried in oil as the doughnuts are to symbolize the same jug of oil that was meant to last for for only one day and actually lasted 8 days. A true miracle that the jewish people on Hanukkah celebrate every year.
A Hanukkiah (It is also called a Menorah) is a candelabra designated specifically for the Hanukkah candles. Containing 9 place for the candles.One for each of the 8 nights and the 9th, the Shammash is the "helper" used to light the candles with.
In the photo above I show a very special Hanukkiah. It was a gift my parents received in the 60s. My father had a very close friend called John who was a Christian man that was born in Jerusalem. John lived in Cyprus and visited our home many times, sometimes with his lovely wife. My parents entertained them often. My mother with her amazing cooking which they looked forward to at each visit, and my father with his welcoming whisky drink (or two ) and a Shesh Besh (Backgammon) game that he played with John.
He bought this Hanukkiah in Jerusalem as a gift for my parents. I treasure it today as it sits on the wall unit that belonged to my parents. In the same position my parents placed it.
My mother made the best latkes imaginable. I know everyone says their mother made the best, but my mother really did....they were made from freshly grated potatoes and onions. Crispy on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside. Each one was perfect. She served them on a large plate with a bowl of sugar in the middle. We dipped each latke in sugar and ate it! There is nothing like it.
So here's all you need for my mother's latkes!
4 baking potatoes peeled
1 large onion
3 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon baking powder
oil for frying
Shred the potatoes and onion. Place in a towel and squeeze out as much water out of the grated ingredients as you can. Place in a large bowl and add all your ingredients. Mix well. I use my hands to mix so that I know all is blended in.
Heat oil in large wide pan filled to about 3/4 until it is fairly hot and starting to bubble. Using 2 large spoons, scoop and flatten some of the mix then place it in the oil. Fry for about 5 min on each side or until the latke is browning. Take out and put on a paper towel to drain.
Serve with sour cream or apple sauce on the side or....the way my mother did with sugar in a bowl to dip into! My favorite way!