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Exotic Hanukkah Foods
Try something a little different – and very yummy!
SEPHARDIC LATKES OR SVINGE
Svinge is the Sephardic answer to latkes, light and crunchy eaten sprinkled with confectioners’ sugar.
Rabbi Maimon the son of Yosef, the father of the Rambam (Maimonides) says that eating svinge is integral to the Hanukkah celebration. For a small batch – enough for six people combine
- 11/2 cups of flour
- 1/2 t salt
- 1 t instant yeast
- 7/8 cup of warm water
Mix these into a batter.
Let the batter sit for three hours until it has doubled or tripled in size. Then heat oil in a frying pan – this is another deep fry dish. Wet your hands. Tear off plum-sized pieces of the dough. Stretch them a bit and form a hole in the middle and fry on both sides. Drain on paper towels, Sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar and eat right away.
FRIED FISH BALLS
Fried foods to recall the miracle of the flask of oil and fish is a traditional Shabbat food – so it’s a perfect Shabbat Hanukkah dish. In the UK, these fish balls are featured at all Jewish celebrations and for good reason – they are absolutely delicious and easy to make.
Defrost one roll of gefilte fish.
Add matzah meal one handful at a time, just enough to form the fish into walnut-sized balls. Deep fry about six minutes until browned on all sides.
(optional: add 1/4 t black pepper to the fish mix for a spicier fish ball)
Eat hot or cold. Yum!
This is a Persian frittata traditionally eaten on Hanukkah. Very healthy and very yummy.
- 2-3 eggs.
- Half a bunch of fresh coriander
- Half a bunch of fresh parsley
- Quarter of a bunch of fresh dill
- Half an onion or three scallions
Chop all the vegies fine.
Lightly grease a ceramic nonstick frying pan (2 tablespoons of vegetable oil or ghee).
Lightly beat the eggs.
Add spices, salt, pepper, turmeric to taste.
Chop the herbs and onions or scallions are finely as you can – use fresh or frozen, never dried. You can also substitute fresh spinach leaves for the herbs.
Combine the herbs with eggs.
Pour the mixture into a heated greased frying pan. Fry until lightly browned, then flip over.
Cut the kuku into wedges and served with yogurt and rice or crusty bread and feta cheese too.
Serves three. You can freeze this!
We eat dairy foods on Hanukkah to remember the bravery of Judith, the valiant Maccabee woman who slew the wicked Syrian Greek general Holofernes by first feeding him cheese to stimulate thirst and then wine to get him drunk. After that she beheaded him. The sight of his skull rolling through his tent frightened the Syrian Greeks so much that they ran away and the Maccabees won the war.
I love this recipe. You don’t precook the noodles or the sauce. You just layer everything and it all bakes together until a tinfoil blanket. Easy and delicious.
- 1 large can of crushed tomatoes (800g or 19 oz)
- 1 large can of tomato paste (not sauce) also 19 oz.
- Combine and add 1/2 t garlic powder
- 2 t oregano
- 1 t basil
- 1/2 t salt
- 1/4 t black pepper
Thin the sauce with a little bit of water. Don’t cook this, just mix ingredients in a separate bowl.
Combine 16 oz or 750 grams of cottage cheese, ricotta cheese or white cheese (or any combination of the three – three Israeli cottage cheese packages are okay) with one egg.
Layer sauce, noodles, cottage cheese, two big handfuls of grated cheese (I use low fat mozzarella). REPEAT. Last layer is noodles and sauce.
Bake in a 9×12 inch pan covered well with tin foil for one hour at medium heat (350F or 180C).
For the last 10 minutes of baking, uncover and add two handfuls of grated cheese to the top so the cheese can melt and look pretty.
MENORAH SHAPED CHALLAH
- 4 cups of flour (approximate)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup oil
- 1 cup tepid water
- 1 teaspoon yeast
- sesame and/or poppy seeds
- egg yolk for brushing
Dissolve yeast in water. Add sugar and oil.
Gradually add in the flour one cup at a time. (Do not add all the flour at once unless you want to create an unkneadable blob, even if you are using a stand mixer.)
Knead together until the mixture forms a soft but firm dough.
Leave the dough in oiled bowl covered with damp cloth until it doubles in size. (Time for this varies on the weather and heat in your kitchen.) If it is cold, let the dough rise in a warm place – n top of the fridge or the drier or in an oven heated on very low. You can heat your oven for two minutes to 180C or 375F and then shut it off immediately.
Once the dough is risen, form it into menorah shape. Roll out eight 4-inch strands for arms of menorah and a longer strand for the base. Brush with egg yolk and sprinkle with sesame and poppy seeds, Bake in preheated oven at 375 for 45 minutes or until brown. Freezes well but be careful not to break it. Enjoy!
Here’s a cooking lesson cast in rhyme
So your latkes can rock at Chanukah time.
Latkes are a part of our history
I’m going to unlock the mystery
Of how to make them crisp and light
For your guests to eat on Chanukah night.
Rule #1 – don’t skimp on oil
¼ inch in the pan, bring it close to boil
Rule #2 – make your latkes of equal dimension
Don’t crowd them in the pan
They need personal attention
Rule #3 – when they’re brown then flip
Fry other side, and then place on towel to drip
Rule #4 – eat right away
Your latkes will be soggy if you wait another day.
Rule #5 – don’t forget to smile
Let the Chanukah light shine on you for a while.
MY LATKES RECIPE
Using the grating attachment on your food processor, grate together 1 small onion, 4 large potatoes, 2 eggs and 1/2 cup matzah meal.
Add 1/8 t black pepper and 1 teaspoon salt.
Heat oil in a heavy bottomed skillet. Make sure the entire skillet is covered with oil 1/4 inch or more deep.
Drop in a tiny bit of batter. If it browns then you’re ready to fry.
Spoon in latkes. Don’t crowd.
Fry three minutes on each side. Remove, place on paper towel to drain excess oil and serve ASAP!!
You can reheat in a low oven and serve later ,or if you really have to freeze, but nothing tastes as good as fresh.
Safety note: turn frying pan handles inward and never leave a frying pan full of hot oil alone even for a minute. Also don’t let the oil smoke because that will spoil your latkes.
Carol Ungar is a writer, mom, bubbie, and avid challah baker. She’s the author of Jewish Soul Food–Traditional Fare and What it Means (Brandeis 2015) the first and only cookbook that not only shows you how to cook Jewish but tells you why. Available at amazon.com, bookdepository.com and bn.com.