I have issues with Chanukah, Fellow FoodBeest. Not as a celebration of light against the darkness, both in the physical universe and in ourselves. I like that.
But Chanukah, a fairly minor holiday in Israel and most other Jewish communities around the world, got amped up in the U.S. in the late 19th Century when some Reform rabbis decided Jewish Americans need a little more Christmas. And since then Chanukah has gone totally steroid with marketing, gifts, decorations and parties.
But try as they might, it’s still not Christmas.
And here’s what’s worse. If you really look at it, Chanukah is a commemoration of what happened when a group of zealous, militant traditional Jews in the ancient world (the Macabees) took up arms against another group of Jews who were assimilating with the local Greek community. So Chanukah actually is a celebration of the defeat of people who – like me – identify themselves as much with the larger community as they do with their religious community.
Now that being said, the food of Chanukah is something I can really get behind. Latkes. Doughnuts. Fried goodies.
This year I am trying something new: Sweet Potato and Apple Latkes that combine the sweet and the savory and the delicious (if not always healthy) goodness that hot oil brings to food. And the applesauce is inside!
Because this recipe features sweet potatoes and apples, curry powder is a perfect foil to add depth. I know that some people don’t care for curry and you don’t have to use it, but even a little makes a big difference. And for those of you who really like the flavor of curry, feel free to add more than the recipe calls for.
I made some latkes with curry powder and some without. Mr. FB, as it turns out, is a strong advocate for using the curry. This was a much better latke than traditional potato latkes he said. High praise, I thought.
The only downside is that your house – and you – might smell like sweet potato apple latkes for a while.
What It Takes to Make Sweet Potato Apple Latkes
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and grated (equals about 4 cups)
1 green apple, peeled cored and grated
½ small onion, grated
1 C all purpose flour
1 t baking soda
1 t salt
1 t sweet curry powder
1 egg, beaten
¼ t black pepper
Plenty of vegetable oil for frying
How To Make Sweet Potato/Apple Latkes
You can grate the sweet potatoes and apple in the food processor. You will need a flat grater or a box grater for the onion.
In a bowl, stir together potatoes, onion, apple, egg, curry powder, salt, and pepper. Gradually add the flour and baking powder, mix and stir to combine. It will be very thick. I needed to use my hands instead of a spoon. Raw Egg. Salmonella. Wash your hands before and after mixing.
Be sure the oil is hot or the latkes will come out oily and flabby. Heat oil in a deep skillet over moderate high heat until hot but not smoking. Working in batches of 4 or 5, spoon large spoonful of the mixture (3-4 tablespoons) into the oil and lightly flatten.
Reduce heat slightly and cook for about 2 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Transfer latkes with spatula to a plate layered with paper towels.
Once they drain for a moment or two you can transfer them to a cookie sheet and then warm them for a few minutes in the oven before you serve them.
What are your favorite latkes, Fellow FoodBeest? Share with us in the “comments” section below.