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Oil played a significant role in the Chanukah story—the small jug of oil that miraculously provided fuel for the Temple Menorah for eight days. It is a Jewish tradition to eat foods that reflect the significance of a holiday, such as matzah on Pesach and apples dipped in honey on Rosh HaShanah; Chanukah is no exception. During the eight days in which we remember the miracle of the oil, we eat foods fried in oil.

In America and Europe, the traditional oil-laden food served on Chanukah is the latke. Latkes are potato pancakes, which are made by dropping a mixture of grated potatoes, onions, eggs and flour (or matzah meal) into a pan of bubbling oil. Crispy on the outside and tender on the inside, latkes are typically served with sour cream or with homemade applesauce.

In Israel, the traditional Chanukah food is sufganiyot (donuts). Unlike American-style donuts, sufganiyot do not have a hole in the center. Instead, they are deep fried, filled with jelly, caramel cream, or even chocolate spread, and sprinkled with powdered sugar.

Senta's Latkes - German-style Potato Pancakes

Reprinted from Seasons for Celebration by Rabbi Karen L. Fox and Phyllis Zimbler Miller

1 small whole onion, finely chopped
2 cups raw, peeled, grated white potatoes
1 whole egg (or for a light version, two egg whites)
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1 tbsp. flour (can add a bit more if batter is too thin)
Olive oil as needed

Wash and peel the potatoes. Grate them coarsely. Mix the chopped onions. Drain as much of the water/juice off the mixture as possible. Add eggs and other ingredients. Mix.

Heat enough olive oil to completely cover the skillet. Drop mixture by large spoonfuls to make 2-3 inch-diameter patties. Brown; turn and brown other side. Serve with sour cream, cottage cheese or applesauce.

Sufganiyot - A recipe for Chanukah jelly doughnuts

By Claudia Roden

Click here for recipe >>

Applesauce (the best for dipping Latkes!)

4 pounds apples
1 lemon
2 cinnamon sticks
1/2 cup water
Honey, brown sugar or maple syrup to taste.

Quarter the apples and the lemon. Place in a heavy pot with the cinnamon sticks. Add water. Cover, bring to a boil and let simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally. If it gets too thick, you may want to add a bit more water. Cook about 20 minutes or until apples are soft. Remove cinnamon sticks. Put the sauce through a food mill and add honey, brown sugar or maple syrup to taste.

Wilshire Boulevard Temple

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