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Hanukkah Food

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Like most other Jewish holidays the ‘festival of lights’ or ‘Hanukkah’ comes with its own special food recipes and food traditions. Fried items are the most popular Hanukkah food since it reminds the Jews of the miracle of the oil when the Maccabees sanctified and consecrated the sacred temple in Jerusalem. Potato pancakes and doughnuts are the conventional Hanukkah food items.

The reason behind the consumption of fried foods during the festival of Hanukkah has been further explained by some rabbis. According to them the purpose of oil is akin to that of studying Torah.

The main utility of oil is to add pleasure to our food and life, as oil is not a vital part of our daily existence. As oil has the power to illuminate one’s room and soul, similarly studying of Torah also serves to illuminate the world around us.
Dairy products are consumed during the ‘festival of lights’ to bring back to our mind the memories of the Jewish heroine Yehudit (Judith) who saved her village from the Syrians. When the Syrians were starving the Jews in order to make them surrender, Judith went to the governor of the Syrian troops and fetched him cheese and wine. When he was completely drunk and fell on the floor. Judith beheaded him. She then took the initiative to take the head back to her village in the basket. When the Jews attacked the Syrians in the following morning, the Syrian troops ran to their governor. Reaching there they were shocked to find the governor lying on the floor beheaded. They fled away from there and the Jews regained their independence. In order to commemorate the brave deeds of Judith that consuming dairy products has become an integral part of the Hanukkah food traditions.

Hanukkah Recipes

Potato Latkes
( This recipe makes 10 to 12 latkes )

  • 2 cups peeled and shredded potatoes
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup oil for frying


  1. Add grated popatoes, to a large bowl of cold water Soak potatoes 1 to 2 minutes .
  2. Place the potatoes in a cheesecloth and wring, extracting as much moisture as possible.
  3. Spread grated potatoes and onion on a kitchen towel and roll up. Twist towel tightly to wring out as much liquid as possible.
  4. In a medium bowl stir the potatoes, onion, eggs, flour and salt together.
  5. Heat oil in a large heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat, until hot but not smoking.
  6. Place large spoonfuls of the potato mixture into the hot oil, spreading into 3-inch rounds with a fork.
  7. Reduce heat to moderate and cook .
  8. Brown on one side, turn and brown on the other.
  9. Transfer to paper towels to drain and season with salt.
  10. Serve hot.

Hanukkah Dough Balls

  • 1 cup of apple juice
  • 4 ounces of margarine
  • cooking oil for frying
  • 1 cup of flour
  • 4 eggs.


  1. First, boil apple juice and slowly add margarine while stirring continuously.
  2. Add flour and mix until the mixture stops sticking to the sides of the pan.
  3. Remove the mixture from the pan and add beaten eggs in it.
  4. In a large pan, heat oil.
  5. Drop the dough balls one by one,using a spoon.
  6. Make sure the dough ball browns on all sides and then remove it with tongs and let it cool on a paper towels.
  7. Repeat for the rest of your balls.
  8. Cover the dough balls in melted butter after they have cooled a bit and roll them in cinnamon and sugar.
  9. Serve them with tea.
  10. Serve hot.

Marshmallow Dreidels

  • 12 marshmallows
  • Some Sweet cookies
  • 12 thin pretzels or other thin crackers, cookies or candy
  • Colored decorating sugar
  • Water
  • White frosting
  • White chocolate chips or 8 ounces melted chocolate


  1. To make the handles for your dreidel, insert 1 thin pretzel stick or other thin, round crackers, cookies or candy.
  2. Insert the handles into the center of the marshmallows.
  3. Dip your finger into little water, and wipe the water on the outside circular part of the marshmallows
  4. Pour a small amount of the colored sugar into a bowl. Roll the wet sides of the marshmallow in the colored sugar, or until well-coated.
  5. Spread a dab or white frosting onto the, uncoated part of the marshmallow.
  6. Stick a white chocolate chip onto the frosting.
  7. Repeat to make 12 dreidels.
  8. Refrigerate for 10 minutes.

Marshmallow Dreidels are ready

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