What Food is Eaten on Hanukkah

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Traditional Hanukkah recipes and menus

The Jewish festival of Hanukkah celebrates the victory of the Maccabees over the Seleucids. The Maccabees entered the Temple to light the menorah (branched candelabra) and discovered there was only enough pure olive oil left to light the Menorah for 1 day. Tradition has it that a miracle occurred and the oil lasted for 8 days until the Jews were able to make more.

Jewish traditions of Hanukkah revolve around these concepts.

An 8 branched menorah is lit, and foods are fried in oil and eaten. The best known Hanukkah foods are latkes and donuts. Latkes or potato pancakes are delicious. In recent years they have been adapted and you can now find recipes for vegetable latkes and sweet potato latkes. Latkes are often enjoyed with apple sauce and sour cream but are also eaten with cinnamon and sugar or ketchup. This latke recipe is my personal favorite; the latkes are best served immediately but can be reheated.

1 onion, finely chopped

4 large potatoes

2 eggs

4 tbsp plain flour plus 1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

Oil for frying

Grate the potatoes finely. Leave in a sieve to drain for 10 minutes. Fry the onion in a small amount of oil until translucent. Put the drained potatoes, onion and other ingredients in a bowl.

To deep-fry – heat oil in a deep fryer, or large saucepan.

To shallow fry – heat a frying pan of oil that comes to a depth of 1 cm. When the oil is hot, shape the mixture into ovals with 2 spoons, and drop into the oil.

Note – don’t be surprised if more liquid comes out of the mixture while it is standing. When you take mixture for the latkes you may need to squeeze out excess liquid.

Fry for 3-4 minutes on each side until golden brown.

Drain on kitchen paper.

Donuts or doughnuts are also enjoyed on Hanukkah. They are available commercially, but homemade donuts are delicious. Plus you can make them a little bit healthier – I use a mixture of whole wheat and white flour and fry the donuts in canola oil. Donuts can be baked, but they are not as good, and it does seem to defeat the purpose of eating them on Hanukkah!

As Hanukkah falls during the winter (in the Northern hemisphere) Hanukkah menus are winter. We often have soup or stews, lasagna or other one-pot meals. The emphasis is often on having something healthy to balance all the fried foods! In contrast to many of the other Jewish holidays on Hanukkah, there are no cooking restrictions so any food can be cooked and enjoyed. Here is a sample Hanukkah menu that we will be enjoying this holiday.

 Carrot and lentil soup

Eggplant lasagna

Vegetable latkes

Green salad

Fresh donuts

Find more Hanukkah recipes and menu suggestions.

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