It’s time to reenact the Miracle of the Oil in the Temple again, by lighting the Hanukkah candles. And (the best part, surely), we get to eat fried food for eight days running, with impunity.

Well, thighs and hips may be impugned, but with the obligatory New Year diet round the corner, the sacrifice is small, necessary, and metabolism willing, easily reversed.

As an annual Baum Family tradition, I come up with a new recipe each year for latkes, the potato pancakes that are commonly consumed during this holiday. Last year’s new experiment comprised of sweet potato with chopped rosemary and sautéed shallots – see the recipe further below. It was deelish!

This year, it’ll be the family’s favorite cilantro and ginger ones, which can never make way for any newcomers (I would never hear the end of it. Who knew kids and guests alike love latkes with fresh chili in them?!). Half a grated zucchini added to this recipe may not make a difference to the taste of the latkes, but will certainly help the conscience. See the recipe below.

Having trouble with the batter? Here are some tips for overcoming them.

And making a special guess appearance this year, will be and apple and sweet potato fritters (see photo), to be dunked in lemon-flavored whipped marscapone (left over from making tiramisu recently). Simply grate a Fuji or other firm and crunchy apple, and half a large sweet potato; in a separate bowl, whisk an egg with a teaspoon of agave nectar, 1/2 tsp of ground cinnamon, 1 tbsp of cornmeal and 1 tbsp of cornflour. Mix wet ingredients with the grated, form into patties and fry in oil,  at moderate (and not high) heat, till golden brown on each side. Eat at once.

If you enjoy your fried goodies stuffed with sweet fruit (i.e. jam or jelly), click here for some pretty donuts that will delight all.

May the year ahead be bright, and surround you with the good things – health, family and friends, with the odd fried goodie thrown in. Happy Hanukkah!

Baum Family’s Favorite Cilantro-Ginger Latkes With Chili

  • potatoes, 3 large
  • shallots, 3 medium
  • green chili, one, chopped finely
  • ginger, 1 tsp, grated
  • cumin seeds, 1 1/2 tsp, toasted
  • cilantro, 1 handful, chopped finely
  • eggs, 2, beaten
  • plain flour, 2 tbsp
  • cornmeal, 1 tbsp
  • salt, to taste
  • pepper, a few grinds of
  1. Peel the potatoes, grate them and soak in very cold water
  2. Drain and keep aside to dry out
  3. Peel the onions and chop or mince in a food processor
  4. Saute the onions, garlic, ginger, chili and cumin, till fragrant. Keep aside
  5. Combine flour, potato, onion mixture, eggs, salt, pepper and flour
  6. Preheat a large pan of canola oil (filling about 1/3 of the pan)
  7. Drop the potato mixture by tablespoonfuls into the oil, over medium heat
  8. Cook the cakes about 3 minutes a side, or till golden brown
  9. Remove with slotted spoon and place on kitchen paper to soak up excess oil
  10. Serve immediately with sour cream or apple sauce. Or Thai chilli sauce if you like going against the grain!

For the sweet potato latkes:

  • sweet potato, 1 large one, grated
  • potatoes, 1 large, grated
  • shallot, 1, large, chopped finely
  • rosemary, 1 generous tsp, chopped finely
  • egg, 1
  • flour, 1 tbsp
  • cornmeal, 1 tbsp
  1. Saute the shallot till fragrant and caramelized
  2. Mix all the ingredients together and season generously
  3. Fry as per the latkes above and serve with applesauce