• Sweet potato adds a special spin to a traditional Hanukkah potato latkes recipe. (Karl Gibson)Source: Karl Gibson
Eight days and nights of celebrations, blessings and a very good reason to consume fried food: it's Happy Hanukkah time!
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19 Dec 2019 - 2:40 PM  UPDATED 19 Dec 2019 - 2:40 PM

During Hanukkah each year, more than 18 million sufganiyot are consumed in Israel and countless more around the world. It's a tradition that celebrates a miracle: after the liberation of the temple in Jerusalem during the Maccabean Revolt, the Jews only had enough oil to burn the holy light for one night, but miraculously it burned on for eight. It's the reason why Hanukkah lasts for eight days and nights and also the reason why foods prepared in oil, like the famous jelly doughnuts, are consumed throughout the season. 

We can't help but admire a religious festival that celebrates fried food and so many other goodies like these...

1. Start with those doughnuts

This sweet Jewish treat is traditionally filled with raspberry jam and dusted with a generous coating of sugar, sure to satisfy any sweet tooth. The word sufganiyot comes from the Hebrew word for sponge and describes the fluffy, light texture of these doughnuts. Find the recipe here.

2. Add a chocolate spin

Chanie Apfelbaum's take on the sufganiyot adds a thick choc dip to mimic the American candy called jelly rings. A crack of chocolate is so often a welcome addition to a dessert, and this one is no different. Find the recipe here.

Mini chocolate doughnuts, filled with raspberry jam using a syringe.

3. Keep frying, keep smiling

Rugelach is another fried Hanukkah favourite that's worth getting hot for. Born in Eastern European, but raised by Jewish caregivers all over all the world. Rugelach are sweet pastries filled with apricot jam and walnuts, but intrinsically so much more than that. Find the recipe here.

4. Kugel, kugel, kugel 

Authentic kugel is a cheesy dessert that is most commonly made using egg pasta, but it can also be savoury with a base of rice or potatoes. Dried vine fruits, fresh fruits, nuts, eggs, sugar and spices are added to sweet varieties. All of it is worthy of lots of experimentation. Find the recipe for noodle kugel with cherry sauce here.

 

Vegetable pudding (kugel)

Derived in name and form from German kugel puddings, the Jewish kugel, a bake of various grated vegetables and egg, is a popular side dish made during festive holidays. For Passover Seder, grain products of noodles or pasta are often replaced with matzo meal.

Fruit kugel

Authentic kugel is a dessert that is most commonly made using egg pasta, but it can also be savoury with a base of rice or potatoes. Dried vine fruits, fresh fruits, nuts, eggs, sugar and spices are added to sweet varieties.

Sweet noodle bake (kugel)

5. Serve more killer cheese

One of the reasons kugel is eaten at Hanukkah is to honour Jewish heroine Judith. This plucky widow is said to have saved the besieged town of Bethulia during the sixth century BC by giving spiked cheese to the leader of the enemy to make him drunk. The more celebration-cheese the better, and a kosher version of poutine for Hanukkah seems an excellent place to start. Find the recipe here.

6. A different kind of sweet

It's a bit too easy to let the desserts shine, but at Hanukkah, potato latkes often steal the spotlight. Using sweet potato makes this particular recipe even shinier. Find the recipe here.

Potato latkes

It’s interesting to see the difference in style between what I call a latke (a very crispy potato cake) and the somewhat softer latkes that some of my friends with Polish origins love. Mine belong to the Litvak (Lithuanian-Jewish) culinary tradition, which dominated in South Africa where my mother’s family lived, having migrated from Eastern Europe in the late 1880s.

Latkes with apple sauce

A lemony apple sauce sweetens a plate of traditional potato latkes.

Latkes

Latkes are Jewish potato cakes, traditionally eaten during Hannukah. This recipe uses potato only, gently seasoned with salt and pepper, but some variations use onion as well.

7. Make room for brisket

There probably isn't any need to make room for brisket during the festivities. Brisket demands room. Nay, brisket owns the room. Whether you cook a traditional braised brisket, or rock out this hearty Texan version, there's always a place for this succulent, flavoursome cut of beef. Find the recipe here.

Delightfully succulent, beef brisket will blow your mind!

8. Bring out the roast

Roast chicken is often served alongside the latkes and brisket, rounding out the meal for larger parties. There are probably as many roasted chicken recipes as there are cooks in the world, but this African version, roasted with a freekeh stuffing, is up there with the best of them. Find the recipe here.

9. Spice up some salmon

For a lighter festive meal, a zesty, lemony whole salmon hits the spot nicely. Chilled for hours before being baked until melting, then served with a spicy onion sauce... this dish is a celebration all on its own. Find the recipe here.

10. But back to the sweet stuff

During the festival, Hanukkah gelt is traditionally given - in the form of money for adults and wrapped chocolate coins for children. What better way to gift the coins than on top of a brownie-like crinkle cookie? Happy Hanukkah indeed! Find the recipe here.

Find out more about Hanukkah traditions here and find more fabulous food to help celebrate it here.

Happy Hanukkah
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One of the most entertaining events in the Jewish calendar, Hanukkah is a chance for families to get together, play traditional games and feast on luscious jam donuts and latkes.
Potato latkes

It’s interesting to see the difference in style between what I call a latke (a very crispy potato cake) and the somewhat softer latkes that some of my friends with Polish origins love. Mine belong to the Litvak (Lithuanian-Jewish) culinary tradition, which dominated in South Africa where my mother’s family lived, having migrated from Eastern Europe in the late 1880s.

Roasted chicken with Jerusalem artichoke and lemon

The combination of saffron and whole lemon slices does not only make for a beautiful-looking dish, it goes exceptionally well with the nutty earthiness of the artichokes. 

Jam-filled doughnuts (sufganiyot)

The word sufganiyot derives from the Hebrew word for sponge and describes the fluffy, light texture of this doughnut. This sweet Jewish treat is traditionally filled with raspberry jam and dusted with a generous coating of sugar, sure to satisfy any sweet tooth.

Orange compote

This dessert is light and not too sweet, so it’s the perfect finishing note to a big meal. When blood oranges are in season, substitute them for half the oranges.