Sure, classic potato latkes - with their crispy edges and warm, gooey insides - are about as close to perfection as you can get. But with eight nights of Chanukah, why not experiment.
Obviously, you can start with replacing the potato. Sweet potatoes, carrots, zucchini, beets - try your favorite vegetable instead of potatoes - though you may have to adjust the flour level depending on what you swap.
You can also keep the potatoes - or a different vegetable - and play around with the spices. Curry powder, chili flakes, garlic powder of cumin can take basic latkes to a whole new level. You can even try a sweeter variety - perhaps with apples - and add cinnamon, nutmeg and a touch of brown sugar.
Plus you can switch around your toppings. Apple sauce or sour cream are the classic, but try them with cream cheese and a slice of lox, a fried egg, horseradish, hot sauce, parmesan or goat cheese or even greek yogurt.
Whichever way you fry it, latkes are a great blank canvas! Here are four innovative recipes - Curried sweet potato latkes; Zucchini latkes; Carrot and apple latkes; Leek latkes; and Samosa latkes.
Curried Sweet Potato Latkes - Makes about 15 medium latkes
1 pound sweet potatoes (about 1 large or 2 medium potatoes)
1/2 cup flour
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoon salt
sprinkle black pepper
1/3 cup milk or soy milk
Peel the potatoes. On the coarse side of a box grater or in the food processor grate the potatoes. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, sugars, baking powder, curry, salt and pepper. Add in the eggs, and beat to combine. Stir in the milk until well mixed.
Add in the grated sweet potatoes, and mix until the batter is moistened.
Heat 1/8 to ¼-inch of oil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat.
When the oil is hot, place heaping tablespoons of the batter in the pan, press down slightly to form the patty shape. Fry until crispy, 2 to 3 minutes, then flip and fry the other side. Remove from the pan and place on a paper-towel lined plate to drain.
Zucchini Latkes - Makes about 16
2 large or 3 small zucchini
1/2 to 3/4 cup flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
Grate the zucchini, sprinkle with a few pinches of salt and let sit five minutes.
Squeeze out any excess water with a paper towel.
Grate and add the onion, then add the eggs, flour, salt and pepper.
Mix until totally combined.
Completely coat the bottom of a frying pan with canola or vegetable oil, place over medium heat.
To test if the oil is hot, put a pinch of flour in - it should sizzle in the pan.
Place a heaping tablespoon of batter in the pan, press down lightly. Cook three or four latkes at a time depending on your pan size - don’t crowd them.
Cook until browned on the bottom, 3 to 4 minutes, then flip and cook another 3 to 4 minutes. Remove to a paper towel to drain any excess grease.
Carrot and Apple Latkes
Courtesy Jamie Geller’s joyofkosher.com
4 carrots, peeled and shredded (about 2 cups)
2 granny smith apples, peeled and shredded (about 1 cup)
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 cup matzah meal
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
4 tablespoons canola or grapeseed oil
In a large bowl, combine carrots, apples, lemon juice, matzah meal, egg, ginger and salt. Stir well to combine.
In a large skillet, heat oil over medium high heat. Scoop 1/4 cup of batter and carefully place in oil. Flatten to about 1/2-inch thick with a spatula. Repeat to form four more latkes in your pan, being careful not to crowd the pan, and cook for 4 to 6 minutes. Flip and cook 4 to 6 minutes more or until golden brown on both sides.
Transfer to a paper towel-lined baking sheet and repeat with remaining batter.
Courtesy Leah Schapira’s “Fresh & Easy Kosher Cooking”
3 large leeks (or 4 smaller ones), white and light green parts only
water as needed
2 tablespoons oil
1 tablespoon breadcrumbs or matzah meal
oil for frying
Cut off the dark green part off the leeks and discard. Slice the leeks in half lengthwise and wash thoroughly. Cut the leek into strips and dice.
Place the leeks into a pot with enough water to cover. Add two tablespoons of oil. Bring to a boil. Drain the leeks very well, pressing out excess water.
Add the eggs, crumbs, salt and sugar. Form the batter into patties.
Pour a thin layer of oil into a skillet over medium heat and bring to a frying temperature. Slip patties into hot oil and fry until browned on one side. Flip patties and brown the other side.
Serve at room temperature or cold.
Courtesy Jamie Geller’s “Quick & Kosher Meals in Minutes”
3 baking potatoes, peeled and shredded
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 (10-ounce) box frozen peas, defrosted
1/4 cup matzah meal
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Mix potato, onion, peas, matzah meal, eggs, curry powder and salt.
Spray cooking spray into a nonstick sauté pan. Shape 1/4 cup of batter into latkes and brown on each side.
Remove to a sprayed baking sheet and finish cooking in a 350 degree F oven for 15-20 minutes.
Serve with sour cream and chutney.