Latkes are potato pancakes, commonly associated with the Jewish cultural tradition in the United States and Europe. They can be and are served any time, but traditionally form part of the menu during the celebration of Chanukah. Eating potato pancakes is not one of the mitzvot of Chanukah; that is, it is not a fundamental part of the Chanukah rituals, and has no religious significance. It is seen as appropriate to eat foods cooked in oil during a festival that celebrates the miracle of the Chanukah oil. In Israel, potato pancakes are familiar and well-liked but the sufganiya (jelly doughnut) is considered to be more Israeli.
Various recipes for potato pancakes vary in the degree of fineness to which the potatoes are grated. Some are grated to long strips, others to a fine powder. Both latkes and potato pancakes bear a distant resemblance to the American dish hash browns; however, hash browns are merely coarsely grated potatoes with no binding ingredients or flour.
- 4 large potatoes
- 1 medium onion
- 1 egg, beaten
- 2 tablespoons Matzo meal, cornmeal, or flour
- Salt to taste
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- applesauce, sour cream, and/or sugar
- Peel potatoes and onion and grate.
- Place grated potatoes and onions in cheesecloth or fine sieve. Squeeze mixture to drain excess moisture, ensuring proper frying.
- Mix drained potato and onion mixture with egg, meal, and salt.
- Heat oil in a 10 inches (25 cm) pan over medium heat until it is quite hot. Drop 1-2 tablespoons of the potato mixture onto the pan per pancake. Turn once to allow both sides to fry.
- Serve with applesauce, sour cream, and/or sugar as a topping.
Notes, tips, and variations
- Variants include cheese latkes, zucchini latkes, and apple latkes.