Hanukkah How To: Mixing Latkes With Tradition
Learning to make traditional and Indian latkes for the holiday.
I was at Amy Rubin Schottland's house over the summer when she taught me how to make rugelachs. This time she invited me to her kitchen for potato latkes.
I am not a novice since I have made latkes before. The problem was, I had experience with Indian style latkes—that's right—and they were definitely not the traditional ones.
I love tradition—especially when it comes to food—but I do find myself challenging and modifying old recipes whenever possible. In this case I decided to change up the traditional latke recipe by adding a few Indian ingredients. In India, vegetable fritters are made with chickpea flour. It is a pale yellow in color and has a delicious nutty flavor - it is also high in protein.
I started with the usual russet potatoes—grated them and squeezed out any excess water. I then added chopped shallot, green onions, a green chili and some grated ginger. I was already excited with the aromatic flavors going on when I decided to add some ground coriander. An egg and some chickpea flour later, I had a delicious smelling mixture. I shallow fried the potato pancakes and looked forward to trying the savory delights.
I also doctored up the condiments for the latkes. I made a cilantro cream by blending sour cream, cilantro and limejuice together. I then thought about the usual applesauce and decided to change it up by making spicy chutney. I started with my favorite honey crisp variety and cooked it in apple cider. I added some apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, ground cloves, fresh ginger and cayenne pepper for a yummy kick.
The result was a very different, yet delicious plate of potato latkes served with cilantro cream and apple chutney.
I was excited to share my recipe with Amy and learn how to make the traditional latkes. I decided to chop all the aromatics from my recipe and brought them along. I also added some powdered cilantro and the chickpea flour in the bag.
Amy, who taught music at Temple B'nai Jeshurun in Short Hills for years, welcomed me with a big smile and showed me a number of menorahs on her kitchen table. One of them was from her childhood and two of them were her kids' menorahs. She added candles to get them ready for Hanukah. She explained how she makes a big batch of latkes and freezes them. She places the frozen ones on a brown paper lined cookie sheet and bakes them in a 350-degree oven for ten minutes.
We started the latkes by grating potatoes, an onion and a couple of carrots. She added a couple of eggs, salt, pepper and baking powder to the mix. She talked about how easy they are to make. The only labor intensive part is peeling and grating the potatoes, which can be made easy by using a processor.
In no time we had a number of latkes to enjoy with the applesauce Amy had prepared. We took some potato mixture aside and I added the aromatics I brought with me. Amy and her son tried the Indian latkes and really enjoyed them. It was great to be able to make the traditional latkes with Amy and try the Indian ones I experimented with earlier- we mixed up the traditional ones with the new.
I hope you have a bright and happy Hanukkah whether you cook the traditional latkes or decide to change it up a bit.
Latkes Made With Love from Amy Rubin Schottland
- 2 cups potatoes (russet, you can also add a sweet potato)
- 1 tablespoon flour
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1 small onion
- 1 small carrot
- Pinch of baking powder
- Vegetable Oil for frying
- Peel potatoes, put in cold water
- Grate potatoes either by hand or in a food processor
- Place in strainer and squeeze excess water
- Mix potato with eggs, onion, flour, carrot, baking powder, salt and pepper
- Heat pan and coat with thin layer of oil
- Place 1 to 2 tablespoons of potato mixture in hand and flatten, then place in pan and flatten with spatula
- Cook till edges turn golden brown, flip and cook the other side
- Place pancake on paper towel to drain
Eat right away, or freeze ahead of time and reheat oven to 350 degrees for 10 minutes right before eating.
Great for Passover, in which case substitute baking powder with matzo meal or potato starch.