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.

Too runny

If you’re making up the batter ahead of time and have pre-soaked or cold-rinsed it (to discourage discoloring) and added egg to it, the potato will continue to seep water. No big deal. Before frying, give each handful a squeeze and gently place in the oil

Too salty

Grab another 3-4 potatoes, wash them, bung them in the microwave on the Potato Cook setting (flip as needed), remove and mash, with or without the skin. Add this to the batter

Doesn’t stick together

Add more beaten egg and another tablespoon of flour. Adding some mashed potato (see Too Salty) helps too.

How sticky

As long as a handful of it doesn’t immediately crumble when gently squeezed, it’s good to go (in the oil). If you’re not confident, as grated potato will always look fragile, pre-cook a few potatoes first (see Too Salty), mash and add to the rest of the uncooked batter

When is the potato cooked

Be patient and wait till the one side is a deep, golden brown. Careful not to burn it, keep the oil on medium high heat

Too tasty

Sorry, can’t help you there

Too oily

Well, it is fried, and heaven forfend you should attempt to bake it with a spritz of Pam. The great Miracle of the Oil didn’t happen so you could recall how the Jews of yore daintily set their latkes on an elegant baking tray and thence into a  moderate-heat electric oven.

However, once you scoop the latkes out of the frying pan, place them on a bed of kitchen paper, gently dabbing up oil on top with another kitchen paper.  Keep them warm in a 130F oven (low heat, about 70C). I do this, with caution, on kitchen paper too, so more oil can be soaked.

Want a plain latke

Remove all spices and condiments, even the onions if you wish. Fry, as per normal.


You should be. You’re dealing with a pan of hot oil. Be very careful, use the inside burners and keep sleeves, and children, away from the handles. Doing the latkes itself isn’t as hard as it looks, but make it easier by using technology (food processors, a spouse who is normally glued to a BlackBerry, etc).