Recipe: Potato Pancakes for Hanukkah

Story by Leslie Huffman

Cary, NC – Happy Hanukkah to all our friends in Cary! Here’s a recipe for potato pancakes the Hanukkah way (also called latkes). They’re both symbolic and delicious. And you don’t have to be Jewish to enjoy them.

The Story

Hanukkah is often referred to as the Festival of Lights and is an eight day holiday that celebrates the liberation of ancient Israel from the Syrian Empire and the re-dedication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem.

The story of Hanukkah takes place in the time of the Maccabean Revolt against the Syrians during the 2nd century BC. It was a fight for freedom of religion. Following the victory of the Maccabees over the Syrians and during the re-dedication of the Holy Temple, there was only enough consecrated oil to fuel the eternal flame in the Temple for one day.

This light was what symbolized their strong belief in God. Miraculously, the oil burned for eight days, which was the length of time it took to press, prepare and consecrate fresh oil. They say that with each day the light burned brighter and brighter.

I often reflect this time of year on what this might mean to all my friends who are not Jewish and do not celebrate the holiday.  Religious freedom certainly is a concept that is important to all Americans, and Hanukkah celebrates that right. And like any good American Jew, then we must eat!

Potato Pancakes the Hanukkah Way

Like my Jewish Mom always says, “eat, eat!” And, like many holidays, Hanukkah is accompanied many traditional foods.

Fried foods like “sufganiyot” (jelly-filled doughnuts) and “latkes” (potato pancakes) are some of my favorite. Most of the foods are fried in oil, symbolic of the oil that lasted eight days.

Please enjoy my Mother’s recipe for potato latkes:

  • 3 cups, peeled and shredded potatoes
  • 1 cup mashed potatoes
  • 1 onion, shredded
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons matzo meal or cracker crumbs
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 6 tablespoons vegetable oil
  1. In a medium bowl, mix shredded potatoes, mashed potatoes and onion. Add in eggs, matzo meal and salt; mix well.
  2. Feel consistency of the dough; mixture should hold together without being sticky. If it sticks to your hands, add more matzo meal until dough is no longer sticky.
  3. In a large skillet over medium heat, warm enough oil or butter or margarine to cover 1/4 inch of the skillet.
  4. When hot, drop mixture by heaping tablespoon to oil; flatten with a spatula and cook on both sides until golden brown.
  5. Traditional served with applesauce or sour cream.
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