Monday, December 22, 2008

Latkes (Potato Pancakes)

I have scoured e-newspapers, websites and Jewish cook books to see if anyone has dared stray from the latke recipes handed down for, who knows, how many hundreds of years. The answer seems to be No.

The word 'latke,' for potato pancake, is Yiddish and it is thought that it originated from Russia or Germany. Before Jewish emigration to the US in the early 1900s, it is said that the latke's main ingredient was cheese and not potato, a relatively recent introduction to Europe. Rice was also said to have been used instead of cheese.

And so we come to this recipe. Being unable to follow the crowd, never having eaten a latke whose recipe I was curious to know and not being content that the plain flouring of grated potato is the best festive treatment for this vegetable, this is my version of the much-loved Hanukkah treat.

Tradition mandates that one eats lots of fried food during Hanukkah's eight days to commemmorate the Miracle of the Oil. If you're lucky, doughnuts might be on the menu later this week ;)

  • potatoes, 3 large
  • onions, 3 medium
  • green chili, one, chopped finely
  • ginger, 1 tsp
  • garlic, 1 tsp
  • cummin seeds, 1 1/2 tsp, toasted
  • coriander leaves, 1 handful, chopped finely
  • eggs, 2, beaten
  • plain flour, 2-3 tbsp
  • salt, about 2 tsp
  • pepper, a few grinds of
  1. Peel the potatoes, grate them and soak in very cold water
  2. Change the water a few times, drain and keep aside to dry out
  3. Peel the onions and chop or mince in a food processor
  4. Fry the onions, garlic, ginger, chili and cummin in a pan. Keep aside
  5. Combine flour, potato, onion mixture, eggs, salt, pepper and flour
  6. Preheat a large pan of canola oil (filling about 1/3 of the pan)
  7. Drop the potato mixture by tablespoonfuls into the oil, over medium heat
  8. Cook the cakes about 3 minutes a side, or till golden brown
  9. Remove with slotted spoon and place on kitchen paper to soak up excess oil
  10. Serve immediately with sour cream or apple sauce. Or Thai chilli sauce if you like going against the grain!
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Jen said...

How do you pronounce Latkes? I learnt from our Jewish guide that Hebrew pronounciation is not easy to perfect! She taught us some words but you have to pronounce it like you are coughing out phlegm (Singaporean way (old man style)). No offense. Was told that 2 syllabus can be combined to form a word. I can imagine how hard it is to just get one right, not to mention two together. Oh, you did mention that this is an Yiddish word, so maybe it's not that difficult after all (is it?).

This pancake looks similar to our local snacks called the veggie fritters (if prawn is added, yes, it becomes prawn fritter and price goes up accordingly) from the pasar malam stalls. They are very tempting but very bad for the waistline and below. haha. I trust that the virtual versions do no harm to readers like me.

Happy Hanukkah to you and your family :)

Love, Jen

deb said...

these were absolutely delicious and I've had many a latke in my day. You know they're fantastic when your 8-year-old gobbles them up, too. thank you for a wonderful dinner!!!