Pumpkin Donuts for Thanksgivukkah

Pumpkin Donut- closeupA happy coincidence in the Gregorian and Hebrew calendars brings us Thanksgivukkah this year – a simultaneous Hanukkah and Thanksgiving food fest – and a phenomenon not likely to be repeated on November 28th for possibly a century.

This basically means two things:

1) Not a lot for those of you who don’t celebrate Hanukkah! Or

2) You need to rally up the troops to cook (and eat) everyone’s favorite holiday foods all at once!

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November 26, 2013. Tags: , , , , , , . Festive, Hanukkah, Jewish, Thanksgiving. Leave a comment.

For Hanukkah, Leek and Scallion Latkes with Chinese Five Spices

For the longest time (okay, the past 15 years), I have made the family’s favorite cilantro-ginger-chili latkes – a Diva original – for Hanukkah and also come up with a new one each year.

This year, I take inspiration from the Chinese.

(Photo-viewing tip: To see close-ups, click on the pic, and scroll right or left with arrows)

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December 6, 2012. Tags: , , , , . Asian, Cultural Feasts, Festive, Hanukkah, Jewish, Sides. 1 comment.

A Happy Hanukkah, with Apple Fritters and Cilantro-Ginger Latkes

It’s time to reenact the Miracle of the Oil in the Temple again, by lighting the Hanukkah candles. And (the best part, surely), we get to eat fried food for eight days running, with impunity.

Well, thighs and hips may be impugned, but with the obligatory New Year diet round the corner, the sacrifice is small, necessary, and metabolism willing, easily reversed.

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December 20, 2011. Tags: , , , . Asian, Cultural Feasts, Festive, Hanukkah, Hors D'oeuvres, Jewish, Savories. 5 comments.

Spicy or Sweet, it’s Time for Latkes

Every year, my kids ask, “What do latkes have to do with Hanukkah?” And every year,  I relate the story of the Miracle of the Oil in the Temple.

But faced with the eating of latkes and donuts all week, they forget the Miracle all over again. (more…)

December 1, 2010. Tags: , , , . Cultural Feasts, Festive, Hanukkah, Jewish. 1 comment.

Ginger and Cilantro Latkes (and Troubleshooting the Batter)

The chilli latkes vanished speedily the last time I made them, even in the mouths of babes aged 2 and 4. These ginger and cilantro ones are similar, and in a second batch, I added one grated zucchini too, which made no difference to the taste but definitely helped the conscience 😉  In a food processor, add the onion, about an inch of fresh ginger, four garlic cloves, give it a whizz, then turn it into a pan and saute till fragrant. Add that to the grated potato, with or without zucchini, with a massive handful of chopped cilantro. I added a tablespoon of cornmeal for crunch, don’t forget the other ingredients. Serve with sour cream, or applesauce, or a sweet chilli sauce (the latter would have been the clear winner with the Maccabees, I assure you).

Here are some tips on how to get the latke batter just right. (more…)

December 14, 2009. Tags: , , . Asian, Cultural Feasts, Festive, Hanukkah, Herbs, Hors D'oeuvres, Jewish, Savories. 2 comments.

Hanukkah Donuts with Apple Cider and Jam

One of the highlights of Hanukkah, a largely secular celebration for Jews, is that one gets to eat naughty things that are fried to a golden crisp, like latkes (modified hash browns, really), and often, after the frying, also stuffed with jam and covered in sugar, like doughnuts/donuts, known as sufganiyot in Hebrew. Well, those are the long-lived traditions and I’m going to stick by them.

Having said that, potatoes are a relatively recent introduction into latkes, which traditionally were made of cheese.

In Hanukkahs past, in countries past, it’s been enjoyable incorporating a bit of the local flavors into these traditional treats. Like making cilantro and chilli latkes in Singapore, sweet potato and maple latkes in Toronto, and in London, where anything goes, really – cumin and thai basil latkes. (more…)

December 11, 2009. Tags: , . Baked Goods, Cakes, Desserts, Festive, Hanukkah, Jewish, Kids Cuisine. 6 comments.

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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December 22, 2008. Tags: , . Hanukkah, Jewish, Sides, Vegetables, Vegetarian. 4 comments.