But Hannah Did Not Have Potatoes! Latkes with a Tropical Twist.

Chanukkah is coming, and kids are looking forward to stuffing their faces with latkes – potato pancakes. When I was growing up, we had all kinds of latkes on Chanukkah, and sometimes my grandmother skipped the deruny (potato latkes) altogether because of the variety of other, more interesting ones: carrots with apples, zucchini with raisins, and my father’s favorite rechene (buckwheat) latkes. When a guest inquired about the missing “traditional” kind, she would say, “But Hannah did not have potatoes.” Two burning questions of my childhood were: who was Hannah and why, oh why, couldn’t she get potatoes?

This is the story I put together at the age of about four. In the ancient times, there was a mean king who didn’t want anybody in his kingdom to be Jewish. He sent his soldiers to the Jewish Temple (Temple? we had a Temple? where?) and ordered them to bring him anything that was valuable (like grandmother’s silver candlesticks?) and throw away everything else. Bear in mind that World War II ended only ten year ago, and Stalin (may his name be erased forever) died only two years ago, so evil kings, looting, and destruction of property was familiar territory for every child.

Then, like in every story, there was a good guy, a true hero, Yehuda Maccabee, who, together with his brothers, started an uprising, defeated the huge army of the bad king, and liberated the Temple. Also pretty normal to every child in communist Russia. Now comes a miracle! When the Maccabee fighters entered the Temple, they found a total mess!  An eternal light had to be going non-stop, but they found only one sealed cruse of pure oil that could be used for it. That was enough for only one day, but it would take the priests a week to prepare more oil! Nothing to do but use what they had, and so they did, and miraculously, that one little cruse of oil lasted for eight days. That’s why we celebrate Chanukkah for eight days, and each day we add one more light. Also, that’s why we celebrate not only the miracle of a small band of rebels defeating a mighty army, but also the miracle of oil, the holiday of Light.

But who is Hannah, why do we eat latkes, and what about those potatoes? The way my four-year-old brain processed bits and pieces of adult conversations, Hannah was Mrs Maccabee, the mother of Yehuda and his brothers. She made another miracle happen when she used a few drops of leftover oil to make latkes for the whole gang.

There are two different stories that had converged in my head at that age, and given that even discussing religious holidays was dangerous in those times, I haven’t unraveled the truth until much later. During the Syrian rule over Judea in 2nd century B.C.E., a Jewish mother and her seven sons were brought in front of the king Antiochus Epiphanes who commanded them to bow to idols. When they refused, the sons were cruelly tortured and killed in front of the mother, one by one. After the death of her sons, the mother also died. This tragic incident is discussed in many sources, but not until 12th century the name of the woman is given as Hannah, or Channah (The Book of Josephon). Even though in the earlier sources she is sometimes called Miriam, and sometimes Solomonia, from this point on, the story has spread as “Hannah and her seven sons.”

What does this have to do with the Maccabees uprising? Nothing, other than both occurred during the same times of the same evil king when Jews suffered the same persecution. We don’t even know the name of the real “Mrs Maccabee” (Maccabee is not a name anyway, but a nickname that means “a hammer” and an abbreviation of a Hebrew phrase Mi Kamocho Ba’eilim Hashem, “Who is like You, O G‑d.”). But one thing is certain: my grandmother was right, and Hannah did not have potatoes – they were not brought from the new world until mid-16th century. So why do we eat latkes? Why do we eat sufganiot – jelly donuts? The answer is simple: there are no traditional Chanukkah foods, but to remind us of the miracle of oil, we invent all kinds of fried-in-oil delicacies.

ban car ltks 1.jpg

We love these latkes with a tropical twist – a combination of carrots and bananas. I prefer to use overripe bananas that I save in the freezer for just such occasions. Defrosted, they don’t look pretty, but don’t judge them by appearance. Mash them up with a potato masher and mix them with grated carrots.

ban car ltks 2.jpg

I make my latkes with soy flour, to avoid carbs and to add some protein, but you can use almond or coconut flour instead. For a vegan version, you can use egg substitute instead of real eggs. The most important ingredient is prostokvasha, or homemade clabbered milk (for recipe, click here). I always have it around, but if you don’t, you can use any non-dairy kefir or yogurt. Add a little agave for sweetness, a dash of cinnamon, a pinch of salt and a sprinkle of pepper, and you are ready to fry.

ban car ltks 3.jpg

You have to mix it really well – you don’t want clumps of carrots or lumps of soy flour. Make it smooth! Meanwhile, preheat your frying pan and mist it with oil. Contrary to a popular belief, I don’t drench latkes in oil, and they still come out just fine.

ban car ltks 4.jpg

Fry them on each side for about five minutes. You’ll know it’s time to flip them when they start plumping up and turning golden brown on the edges. When ready, remove them to a plate covered with paper towels, to blot out excess grease.

ban-car-ltks-5

These fluffy and tender latkes are multi-purpose: they could be served for breakfast, lunch, appetizer, side dish, or even dessert. I would not recommend topping them with apple sauce as it will clash with bananas, but sour cream (real or fake), berries, maple syrup, or simply powdered sugar (in my case, xylitol) all work very well. My husband just smothers them with chocolate syrup. Whichever way you do it, you’ll have a real celebration!

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup grated carrots (1 large or 2 medium carrots)
  • 2 frozen and defrosted or overripe bananas
  • 1 cup soy flour
  • 1 egg or substitute
  • 1/2 cup clabbered milk, kefir, or yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon agave
  • A pinch of cinnamon
  • Salt and pepper to taste

PROCEDURE

  • Preheat frying pan, lightly mist with oil.
  • Mash up bananas with potato masher. Add carrots, mix.
  • Add the rest of ingredients, mix until smooth.
  • Pour one tablespoon at a time onto frying pan. Fry on medium heat for about 5 minutes on each side until golden brown. Remove, blot excess grease with paper towels.
  • Serve with your choice of toppings.

Happy Chanukkah – enjoy!

 

 

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99 Comments Add yours

  1. crazykatya says:

    These are going on my ever growing recipe list of “new things to try”. I’ve always wanted to try latkes, this is a recipe I’m not intimidated by. Loved your four year old brain reasoning as well!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you! Kids come up with the most out-of-whack things, don’t they!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I agree, this looks like a lovely recipe I can cope with-thank you very much!:)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank YOU so much – I am glad you like it!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. What a fun twist..sounds delish!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much – glad you like it!

      Like

  4. voulaah says:

    I never it latkes, thank you so much for sharing
    i noted the recipe, to try very soon
    Have a very nice day
    kisses

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you gorgeous! Hugs and kisses!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. voulaah says:

        you are very welcome

        Liked by 1 person

  5. lilyandardbeg says:

    Children make up the best stories 🙂 Though it’s a shame you understood persecution and opression as a child-the concepts that should remain alien to kids (and adults, ideally). The latkes look delicious 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Alex. Unfortunately, we live in a real world, not an ideal Utopian one. I was taught to stand back to back with my cousin and fight back when I went to 1st grade (he was in 2nd and was supposed to make sure I was safe). Those were not school bullies we were fighting with, but the same people who wrote on walls and fences “Jews, get out of here!” Are similar things happening elsewhere, against any oppressed group of people? Are kids being beaten and adults killed just because they belong to this group of population and not the other? We can’t live in a virtual reality; we have to face the world as it is.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. lilyandardbeg says:

        I don’t think anything I say can explain what I feel. Nobody should ever have to experience that. We (in the UK) have systems in place to deal with racial, homofobic or xenophobic bullying and even if some people think it’s too politically correct here, it definitely makes sure the society knows hatred is wrong. One of the saddest memories I have is from my visit in Auschwitz. It had an enormous impact on how I think, how I see the world, how I dissaprove of being quiet when bad things happen. Oh, Dolly, you comment will make me think about the world (the universe and everything). Yet again (and it’s good-thinking is good) x

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thank you for your understanding and your compassion, Alex!

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Brilliant story, brilliant recipe!
    My brother refuses to eat shop brought latkes and will only eat my ones. Sadly they took me hours to make!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your kind words! I don’t blame your brother; i would also not eat shop brought latkes. Though I can’t imagine it taking hours to make – did you do something special with them?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You’re welcome!
        Not sure… It just really difficult for me, and I never normally do things like that. Kept mixing up the matzah meal and potato flour!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Matzah meal in latkes? But this is not Pesach, so why bother? If you want to go the easy way, just grate a couple of potatoes, add an egg and a tablespoon of flour (not potato flour!) per each large potato, and season to your taste. That’s it!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Oh, I should’ve said, I got the recipe from this weird vegan cookbook. Think I’ll use your recipe instead!!!

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Try and please tell me how they come out!

        Liked by 1 person

  7. There’s nothing like the vivid imagination of a four year old :). I love the latkes, so yummy.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Myra!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. You have a good memory and it is fun to read the story about these delicious Latkes 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Irene, but with my good memory,as a child, I got all the facts confused!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, I could read so, but it was still fun to read 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Hey, you started your story telling career really young!
    Love your explanations!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No, that was only story making. Story telling came a little later. Thank you!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. What a creative twist on a classic! They look amazing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Jackie! I am glad you like them.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. feistyfroggy says:

    Very interesting history again! Thanks for sharing. The food looks great as usual.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words! I am glad you like the recipe, too.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. randyjw says:

    It’s so selfless of you to make these ahead of time and to share this story for our behalf! At least you’ll enjoy the fruits of your labor! I think the mushy banana actually looks yummy!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Shall I tell you a secret? I make latkes (different kinds) every Sunday for lunch. It’s the only day of the week, other than Shabbos, when my husband and I have lunch together, so I always try to make it special. Wait till you see the next one!

      Like

      1. randyjw says:

        That is a sweet secret. How cherished your time together. I will be looking forward to seeing what your next ones will be. White chocolate and gummy bear latkes, for kids (or big kids)?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Interesting, but no – we are not into gummy bears (we’re cats anyway!), and we like dark chocolate, not white. Guess again (hint – it’s in Yiddish)!

        Like

  13. tinahomeblog says:

    Thank you for this recipe for Latkes. I just made some Latkes today with grated potatoes and fried them in lots of oil. Now I will try your new recipe with less oil and different ingredients. Thank you for your new recipe.
    Lara.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your comment, Lara. Do try and let me know, please! Meanwhile, I am planning to post some more latkes recipes before Chanukkah. Be well,
      Dolly

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Elizabeth says:

    Thank you for sharing the recipe. I love the story of how you interpreted the stories of the Maccabees! As a child I used to rejoice that I was the baby of the family and didn’t have to worry about Passover! My oldest son used to make me mark all the lintels with lamb’s blood every Passover. He was convinced he wouldn’t see morning if I didn’t.
    Mama used to make potato latkes and I made them for my kids. I need to start that again for Mr. C!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That is precious – the things that get stuck and creatively interpreted in children’s minds! Marking lintels with blood – wow! I am making a note to tell my students as an example of perceptional interference.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Elizabeth says:

        I’ll have to tell you how I got him over that but it shows how evil I am. LOL

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Elizabeth says:

        It’s a long story but I’ll try to be succinct. He was REALLY scared at Passover and I knew the lamb’s blood wasn’t totally comforting him. So…I told him there was actually an older brother who had been taken and I’d buried him in the barn. It made my son feel safe (except I’m sure it made the barn creepy).
        Then, one day, the boys were out in the barn messing around and happened to dig up a femur. The bone was actually from a cow that had been buried in there but they came tearing into the house, bone waving around their heads and asked, “Is this our brother?” Oh the tangled webs we weave.
        Instead of simply coming clean I said, “Yes. Now go put your brother back.” It wasn’t until they were well into their teens that they knew the truth that their poor brother buried in the barn was really a cow that dropped unexpectedly and got buried where she fell.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. OMG! This is one of the best stories I’ve ever heard! With your permission, I’ll incorporate it into a Passover post. Better than any writer’s fantasy!

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Elizabeth says:

        Oh, geez. When I hadn’t heard from you I thought you thought I was a horrible person and the worst mother in the universe! LOL I’m so happy to see that smiling face there!!
        I’d be honored! And please know that the boys knew they had a mother (in fact an entire family) who teased. They were (almost) certain I hadn’t actually buried someone in the barn. After all, I’d been telling them since the could crawl you NEVER bury a body! lol

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Of course you are a horrible person! That’s why I – another horrible person! – love communicating with you. Nope, at 2 AM my computer crushed which was its way of telling me to get some sleep already. But wait, if you don’t bury a body, what do you do with it?

        Liked by 1 person

      6. Elizabeth says:

        It kind of depends on the area you live. I’m lucky to have a quarry just across the road. Quarries are great for getting rid of the unwanted corpse but you can’t just drop them in the water. (I can just feel the FBI tuning in about now). The decomp bloats the body and it floats. Never a good thing when you don’t need the body for insurance purposes. First you wrap the body in chicken wire (as a farm gal I always have this available). Kind of twist the ends a bit but not too tightly. Think of Smarties candy. Then weight the chicken wire and gently shove the body off a boat into the middle of the quarry. The gasses expand the flesh, the chicken wire cuts it into pieces, the fish eat the pieces, and eventually the wire rusts and disappears. Since quarries are usually well over 100 feet deep it’s not like anyone’s going to step on the cadaver splashing around in the water.
        Note: I have NEVER personally rid myself of the odd ex-husband or woman who made comments about my weight in this way. I wasn’t there. I didn’t do it. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

        Liked by 1 person

      7. The note is for FBI – I got it. This is fascinating! I’ve never heard of anything like that, and I can imagine a whole book just around this image – wow! I asked more as a joke, and I have not not expected this kind of a tale. Thank you so much!

        Liked by 1 person

      8. Elizabeth says:

        I’m a wealth of useless trivia! lol

        Liked by 1 person

      9. This is far from useless. In fact, I believe it is very important to preserve these details for future generations. I hope you are writing some of them down and saving them for your grandchildren!

        Liked by 1 person

      10. Elizabeth says:

        Uh. The body disposal stuff?

        Liked by 1 person

      11. Yes. And I am sure that you know many such things that will be obsolete and forgotten in one generation, if not sooner.

        Liked by 1 person

  15. mahdheebah says:

    My mouth is watery 😥 lol please send me some of this amazing cuisine

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you dear, I wish I could e-mail it to you! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  16. randyjw says:

    A bissele kasha varnishkes latkes, mamelah? Kreplach latkes, heh-heh? If not, I’m going to be soon compelled to start looking up guesses from a Yiddish dictionary.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are not that far off – vart oys, and you’ll see!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. randyjw says:

        Kasha and farfel latkes — my last guess. The suspense is…..

        Liked by 1 person

      2. randyjw says:

        The last guess was a suggestion. My real guess is… Kasha! Ha-ha!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. You got it – rechene (buckwheat) latkes!

        Like

      4. randyjw says:

        I suppose if I stopped commenting, you could actually have time to make them. Lucky hubby!

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear Sally, thank you so much for reblogging – what an unexpected honor!

      Like

    1. Thank you so much! Hugs and blessings right back to you!

      Liked by 1 person

  17. mavimet says:

    These look and sound delicious and I think I’m going to give them a try. Thanks .

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much – I am glad you like the recipe. Do try – it’s very easy! – and please tell me how they come out. Good luck!

      Like

  18. Tina Frisco says:

    Dolly, I’m heading to the frig for what will be a poor substitute for a latke, but I’m suddenly ravenous! I love latkes but haven’t had one since my friend Natalie passed. That was 2 1/2 years ago ~ far too long to go without a fix. Do you deliver? 🙂 💖

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear Tina, first of all, I am sorry about your friend’s passing – I know how that feels, believe me! I wish I could e-mail you some latkes, but barring that, you can make them out of whatever you find in your fridge! Good luck!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Tina Frisco says:

        Thanks for the condolences, Dolly. I do miss her… ♥

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Believe me, I know… Too many losses…

        Liked by 1 person

  19. I put your blog on the FB page: https://www.facebook.com/shatteredinhim/

    You have so many great recipes! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear Hannah, I thank you so much for you kind words and for the FB link. It means so much to me! Many blessings and best wishes to you and your husband!

      Like

  20. Balvinder says:

    I love your tropical twist on potato latkes.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, dear Bal, and I love your recipes!

      Like

  21. These look really good and relatively healthy!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I usually avoid frying food. My husband is always worried about cholesterol and fat. However, my mother always said, “when you fry, you fry.”

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I totally agree with you, and that’s why I lightly mist instead of pouring oil, but if we don’t fry at least something, we negate the whole idea of Chanukkah food.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. True. I usually am not the greatest fryer. Plus, everyone only likes to eat it when it’s fresh. No leftovers 😕

        Liked by 1 person

  22. Joëlle says:

    What an interesting combination of flavors, I’m sure your latkes are delicious. Thank you for sharing your culture.
    I know the story of the seven brothers, I hear it in church and it gives me the chills every time. It is only when confronted with oppression and danger that people show their braveness… or cowardice. I often wonder which trait would be revealed in my case!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Than you so much for your comment; I am glad you like the recipe. Yes, adverse conditions have a tendency to bring up the best or the worse in people.

      Liked by 2 people

  23. Ellen Hawley says:

    Of course you’re right about the potatoes and the new world–and the thought never crossed my mind until I read what you wrote. How obvious. How funny that we (or I) have to be reminded of it. Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We all tend to take many things for granted, and we are endlessly surprised when we stop and examine them. Thank you for your comment, Ellen!

      Liked by 1 person

  24. I loved the story! History plays an important part in everyone’s beliefs. I am not of the Jewish faith but we do have similar stories like the sermon on the mount. Faith is an important part of everyone’s heritage and nationality. Potato pancakes is a favorite of mine and my mom made them often and she was Italian. She had six children and my dad and herself to feed. Potatoes were cheap and went a long way Thank you for your most interesting post and the history behind it. No matter who we are it is wonderful how food brings us all together, almost like one big family, and isn’t that the way it should be. Thank you for sharing your wonderful story. Happy Chanukkah!!!!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much for a wonderful comment. I believe exploring history helps us explore and better understand ourselves and others, and food history is such a fascinating subject! Happy Holidays to you and yours!

      Liked by 1 person

  25. oldpoet56 says:

    Excellent recipe Ms. Dolly, it does look very good. Also, thank you for the Maccabee’s, I know of the story through my readings but I did not know her name, thank you for the great post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words, Ted. As you see from my research, nobody is sure of her name, so you are not alone.

      Like

  26. oldpoet56 says:

    O, I forgot, I hope it is okay with you (I believe it is but if I am wrong just slap me up side the head and I won’t do it again) I am going to reblog this article for you. I would like to do it for a two fold reason, 1) great recipe, 2) the story about the Maccabee family. I am hoping that if people do not know the story/history that they will look it up and read more about them, they were true pillars of their faith.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is most certainly fine with me, and I thank you so much for reblogging!
      Happy New Year full of joy to you and yours!

      Like

  27. 76sanfermo says:

    Súper!
    Feliz año

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Mille Grazie! Feliz año!

      Like

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