What? Latkes again!
It’s pretty safe to say that you won’t hear that complaint echoing through Jewish homes this Hanukkah, but it is good to know that after you’ve finished digging into your latkes or your jelly-filled sufganiyot, there is a world of other traditional foods to sample this holiday. After all, that’s why Hanukkah is eight days long, isn’t it? So here are eight suggestions.
Described as “shatteringly crisp outside, tender within,” carciofi alla giudia is among the best known dishes of Roman Jewish cuisine. As noted at npr.com, “‘Italian Jews are not latke people,’ says Joyce Goldstein in Cucina Ebraica: Flavours of the Italian Jewish kitchen. But deep-frying is an old Roman Jewish tradition, according to Goldstein, and cooks known as friggitori used to sell fried vegetables from street stands.”
Since Hanukkah is all about the oil, Daniel Gritzer advises, “olive oil is more traditional, and will give more of the characteristic Mediterranean flavour, whereas neutral oils like vegetable or canola oil will let more of the pure artichoke flavour shine through.”
2. Gulab Jamun (Indian milk fritters)
Thank you, Katherine Kaestner-Frenchman, for this description. “These balls of fried dough are drenched in sugary syrup and are a Hanukkah staple in Indian Jewish communities that have existed in Mumbai, Kolkata, Goa, and Kerala since at least the middle ages. The oldest community is located in Kochi in South India where Gulab Jamun originate.”
3. Zoulbia (Iranian funnel cake)
Food blogger Tannaz Sassooni writes that Iranian Jews don’t have a strong Hanukkah food tradition but zoulbia certainly is a contender for a fine fried oil food. “Imagine a light and lacy funnel cake, fried until it’s crisp. When you bite into it, you experience a burst of honey syrup flavoured with cardamom and rosewater.”
How to Make Zoulbia
4. Perashki Kartoshkagiy (Bukharian potato turnover)
Perashki are pockets of dough stuffed with mashed potatoes, ground beef, mushrooms, and other fillings. They are fried in vegetable oil until they puff up. Tablet’s Leah Koenig visited Elana Mammon’s kitchen where “the aromas filling the air—softening onions mixed with the heady scent of yeast dough, garlic, and fresh herbs—are entirely Old World.” Elana’s daughter Dalia adds, “My mom makes perashki for Shabbat. … We also eat them on Hanukkah with sweet jam instead of savoury fillings.”
5. Berenjenas con Miel (Spanish fried eggplant with honey)
We’re going to stick with Leah Koenig a while longer. She has headed west (in Old World terms) to sample berenjena con Miel, “a dish of crisp-fried eggplant served with melted cheese, honey, and black nigella seeds, or the garbanzo rinconcillo, a hearty chickpea and spinach stew reminiscent of adafina.”
Foodandwine.com notes that fried eggplant and honey is a classic combination served across Andalusia, especially in Córdoba.
6. Loukoumades (Greek puffy dough fritters)
Loukoumades (also known as zvingoi) are small puffy dough fritters flavoured with honey which have been enjoyed by Greeks and Greek Jews since Byzantine times. They are thought to have originated by the Romaniotes, an ethnic Jewish community native to the Eastern Mediterranean and the oldest Jewish community in Europe.
7. Kibbet Yatkeen (Syrian pumpkin patties)
The late food writer Gil Marks says “these flavourful patties, which contain no eggs, are denser and more healthful than typical Western pancakes. … These might be served at a Syrian Hanukkah meal alongside bazargan (Syrian bulgur relish), yerba (stuffed grape leaves), spinach salad, and rice with pine nuts.”
OUkosher.org adds that “Syrians tend to prefer their pumpkin pancakes spicy, while Sephardim from Turkey and Greece generally favour them slightly sweet.” Thankfully OU has provided several recipes that should please everyone.
8. Sambusak B’Tawa (Iraqi chick pea turnovers)
As described by Sonya Sanford, sambusak b’tawa are “savoury pastries that get filled with spiced chickpeas, and then they’re fried until crisp. Once out of the oil, they’re irresistible.” You can find a mouth-watering and very detailed recipe here. The cook adds most emphatically in caps, “LOL THAT WAS REALLY TOO LONG. BUT I SWEAR IT’S WORTH IT, THEY ARE SO LIGHT AND DELICIOUS AND FILLING! ENJOY!”
What, you’re still hungry? Next time: eight more mouth-watering Hanukkah foods from around the world.