In just a few days (evening of December 16th), it will be time to light the menorah and celebrate Hanukkah. And latkes, patties fried in olive oil, are part of the traditional celebration. When I was a child, my mother would make the typical latkes from potato and matzoh meal, just as my grandmother (her mother-in-law) taught her. But latkes can be made from other vegetables as well.This recipe for gluten free, vegan, low carb latkes should suit most dietary needs. Although latkes are traditional for Hanukkah, they can be eaten at any time during winter. And you don't have to be Jewish to enjoy this delicious savory treat!
Hanukkah comes at the end of the traditional olive oil pressing season in the Middle East. The Ashkenazim, or Eastern European Jews, did not have access to olive oil and used to fry their latkes in animal fat. The Sephardim, living in the Middle East and West Asia, used olive oil, both a healthier choice and also more deeply connected to the Hanukkah miracle, whereby the olive oil in the menorah burnt for eight days while new oil was pressed.
Before beginning my latke experiments I looked at many sites. By far the most helpful was This one by Norwitz Notions. I'm grateful to the author for giving such great directions that my latkes came out perfect the first time, despite my apprehensions. Here's what she says that really helped:
Prepare the vegetables at least an hour ahead of time. Coarsely grate them in a food processor. Don't grind or slice them, they will not come out right. Put in a bowl and salt them well (don't use more salt than you would for taste anyway, but use as much as you can). Toss to get the salt on all parts and let them sit for half an hour at the very least but an hour if possible. Several hours is even better, but there's no need to go beyond that.
Letting them sit allows some of the excess liquid to settle to the bottom. The salt pulls out even more liquid. This is essential for latkes; without this step you end up with a soggy mess. Just before mixing with the other ingredients, taste the veggies and see if there is more salt than you want in the finished latkes. If so, rinse with a bit of fresh water. Take the veggies one handful at a time, squeeze really well, and put the dry veggies in a fresh bowl. Discard the liquid.
Salted veggie mix
Latkes ready to fry
Cabbage and Carrot Latkes
This made smallish batch of latkes, so increase for a family or a party!
Flax seed meal is a great egg replacer but be sure to use the golden meal to preserve the pretty colour of the latkes.
3 cups grated cabbage (this was about half a cabbage)
1 cup grated carrot (I used a mixture of small orange, gold and purple carrots from the garden)
1 small bunch cilantro, chopped
2 Tbsp golden flax seed meal mixed in water (or 2 eggs, if you eat eggs)
2 Tbsp tapioca flour (if you need very low carb use almond or coconut flour)
1 tsp ground cumin
Salt to taste
Olive oil for frying
Grate the veggies and chop the cilantro an hour ahead of time.Combine them and salt to taste. After an hour, squeeze out the water from the veggies one handful at a time (this was great hand therapy!). Place the veggies in a dry bowl and mix in the other ingredients. Now shape them nicely into patties and place on some kitchen paper .I made little balls in my hand and then pressed them into firm patties. heat the olive oil in a cast iron frying pan or wok (I used my Indian tawa). Test the oil temperature with a little of the remnants of the veggies. If the shredded veggies sizzle when dropped in, the oil is hot enough to fry the latkes. Fry each latke gently until golden brown on each side (about 5 minutes). Remove with a slotted spatula and drain on paper towel.
Latkes are traditionally served with applesauce and sour cream (or vegan sour cream ). We aren't big fans of applesauce so we had ours with apple chutney and some yoghurt seasoned with dill. It was a delicious combination!