Chanukah Basics

Written by Orly Ziv on Wednesday, 14 December 2011. Posted in Food Mood

Chanukah is known to be the holiday of miracles. Have you ever thought that cooking and baking is a sort of a miracle – every time you take raw ingredients and turn them into a delicious food that make all your senses so happy and content, you create a magic!

In Cook in Israel, we witness the miracle of meeting strangers in the morning of our culinary tours and feeling like family at the end of the day. This magic happens around food and with cooking together. We introduce the food of Israel to visitors from all over the world. They discover new flavors and find them tasty. They take back home with them the recipes to introduce the magic of the new food to their families & friends.
Since the miracle of Chanukah was the miracle of a small flask of oil keeping the flame in the Temple alight for eight days, it is traditional to eat food with oil - in other words, fried foods. 
Normally we avoid fried food for health reasons but to keep the tradition in Chanukah, we make 'Levivot' ('latkes') traditional fried potato pancakes and 'Soufganiot', Chanukah deep-fried doughnuts.  
I will share here some traditional home made recipes and some varieties with tips to low the oil absorption.

Chanukah 'Levivot' - Potatos Pancakes / Jewish Polish style


4 – 5 Potatoes, peeled
2 Tbs. flour or potato flour
2 egg 
1 tsp. salt (put less salt if you want to eat it with sugar)


1. Grate the potatoes in a crude grater.
2. Squeeze properly and mix with the flour, egg, salt and pepper.
3. Heat oil in a wide pan.
4. Add batter by the tablespoonful and fry from both sides until browned and crisp.
5. To keep crisp place them on a grid until ready to serve. 
6. Serve with sour cream or sugar. Best hot out of the pan.

Varieties to add to the mixture before frying:

1 onion grated
1 sweet potato grated
1 celery root grated
2 carrots grated

Chanukah 'Levivot' - Potatoes Pancakes / Jewish Iraqi style


5 Potatoes
4 Tbs. chopped parsley
1 chopped garlic
2 eggs
3 Tbs. flour 
Salt and Pepper 


1. Boil the potatoes with the skin until half soft.
2. Peel the potatoes and coarsely grate them.
3. Stir in the flour, parsley, eggs, garlic, salt and pepper.
4. Heat oil in a wide pan.
5. Add batter by the tablespoonful and fry from both sides until browned and crisp.
6. Serve with sour cream or yogurt.



'Soufganiot' – Chanukah Doughnuts with Cheese


1 1/4 cups flour, self raising
250 grams white soft cheese
2 eggs
2 Tbs. canola oil 
1/4 cup sugar
Zest of 1/2 lemon – (optional)
Pinch of salt
For serving:
Powdered sugar
Strawberry jam - option


1. Mix all the ingredients and leave to rest about half an hour.
2. Heat oil in a cooking pot.
3. Make small balls with a spoon, roll them in flour and fry until golden.  
4. Serve with powdered sugar or jam.
* Adding cheese or yogurt, to the batter reduce oil absorption of the doughnuts.
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About the Author

Orly Ziv

Orly Ziv is a clinical nutritionist. Born in Tel Aviv, she discovered as a child that she loved being in the kitchen and has been cooking (and especially baking) joyfully ever since. She holds a B.Sc. in clinical nutrition from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Before turning her talents to cooking holidays in Israel, she developed a successful career as a “nutritionists' nutritionist” working with Israeli dietitians – organizing conferences, editing an online nutrition magazine and more. Orly's work combines her great love of food with her strong emphasis on healthy eating, Mediterranean-style (she herself has been a vegetarian for more than two decades).

Orly lives just north of Tel Aviv with her husband and three children, two of whom also love to cook. As she likes to put it: “On our culinary tour of Israel, you'll meet warm people who love food and the earth. Good, honest food creates a bond between people that enriches our soul and our spirit.” Visit her website, Cook in Israel.

Comments (3)

  • JCPenny
    15 December 2011 at 00:32 |

    In the first recipe (Chanukah 'Levivot' - Potatos Pancakes / Jewish Polish style), what do you do with the 2 eggs?

  • CookinginIsrael
    15 December 2011 at 16:38 |

    Thank you for asking. The eggs are mixed with the potatoes. sorry that it was left out from the instructions.

  • smgruenhut
    15 December 2011 at 20:19 |

    Thanks for clarifying that - I was wondering too - LOVE LATKES, love them with delicious natural applesauce. Yummy in the tummy. I'm going to make them for my co-workers, who are not Jewish and treat them.

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