July 19, 2024
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July 19, 2024
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The Tasty Moments of Chanukah

To most of us when we hear that Chanukah is coming, we start savoring the taste of latkes on our palates. Everyone has their special way of making them. Some shred the potatoes in the food processor, others feel that it doesn’t have the same ta’am if the potatoes are not grated by hand (obviously the miniscule pieces of skin give it a special flavor). Even Martha Stewart gets into the act and offers her “p’s and q’s” of how to make latkes. We Jews know how to celebrate, and no holiday is complete without the tons of extra calories that we manage to absorb into our bodies. Oil, the story of the great miracle—why could it not have been something less fattening?

Walking the streets of Yerushalayim during the eight days of Chanukah, the smell of sufganiyot is everywhere. The old jelly type of doughnut no longer satiates the palates the way they used to. Today, every flavor from caramel to pomegranate to sabra-filled doughnuts are ready for the taking. Even our local Dunkin’ Donuts is ready for the onslaught! Extra doughnuts are ordered yearly to meet the demand.

Dairy foods, thought of as primarily eaten on Shavuot, are also a Chanukah minhag. Since Yehudit offered baskets of wine and cheese to the Babylonian army, many have adapted the minhag of eating dairy on Chanukah. In many cases, fried once again. Cheese blintzes, cheese pierogies, whatever your family is pleased to eat.

The Sephardim have, in many cases, chosen to eat bimuelos on Chanukah. Basically, bimuelos are fried dough puffs. In Egypt they were called “zalabia” and in some other Middle Eastern countries they were called “zengoula.” What could be wrong with sweet dumplings?

Sfenj, which comes from the Arabic word for sponge, is another form of yeast doughnuts. It is fried in oil and often dipped in honey, and then sprinkled with powdered sugar. This was prevalent in Morocco.

There are those who like to decorate their tables for Chanukah with “edible” menorahs. As a child, I remember that people would make a menorah out of celery stalks filled with cream cheese and then grated carrots as the flame. Today we have become more sophisticated; we see advertised sushi platters in the forms of menorahs as well as deli platters with pickles and condiments serving as the necessary accompaniments.

Whatever your choice is for Chanukah, weigh yourself before the week begins and do not weigh yourself directly after the chag. This is not a good time to go on a diet! Enjoy them all. Chag Urim Sameach!



2 Tbsp. vegetable oil, plus more for frying

1 Tbsp. active dry yeast

1 1/2 cups warm water, divided

Juice of 1 large orange, strained of pulp (about 1/3 cup), divided

1 tsp. finely grated orange zest

3/4 tsp. salt

1 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. sugar

1 cup honey

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour


Combine flour, 1 tablespoon sugar and salt in a large bowl. Reserve. Pour 1/2 cup water into a large bowl. Sprinkle sugar and yeast over water and wait until mixture become foamy, about 10 minutes. Add flour mixture, remaining water, 3 tablespoons orange juice, orange zest, and 2 tablespoons oil to the yeast mixture and stir with a wooden spoon to combine, about 30 seconds.

Using your hands, knead dough in bowl until smooth, adding 1 tablespoon of additional flour at a time to reduce stickiness, for about 1-2 minutes. Remove dough and place in a clean, lightly oiled bowl. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rest until dough has doubled in volume, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Heat about 4 inches of oil in a large, tall pot to about 350-360F (very hot but not smoking, or when a pea-sized piece of dough turns brown immediately when dropped into oil). Lightly oil hands, form dough into walnut-sized balls, and drop into the oil in batches. Fry until golden brown on both sides, about 3-4 minutes total. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.

Place honey and remaining orange juice in a small saucepan and simmer 3-4 minutes until warm. Drizzle honey over doughnuts, and serve.

By Nina Glick

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