Hanukah, Time for Cauliflower Fritters

by Sarah on December 6, 2009

Sufganiots at Lehem Toshia

Hanukah has got to be my favorite Jewish holiday. I don’t have to host extravagant four course dinners; neither do I have to go trudging to the stores to pick out gifts for friends and family. All I am obliged to do is light candles, sing Hanukah songs about dreidels and potato pancakes and eat foods fried in plenty of oil.

Hanukah commemorates the rededication of the Temple after its destruction by the Seleucids (Syrian-Greeks). The Maccabean warriors succeeded in pushing them back but found the Temple desecrated, with only enough holy oil to light the eternal flame for one day.  Miraculously, this small pot of oil lasted for eight entire days, sufficient time to produce more consecrated oil to continue their religious obligations. It has become a tradition to celebrate Hanukah by eating lots of deep fried and oily foods such as donuts, known as sufganiot and potato pancakes (levivot in Hebrew and latkes in Yiddish). Although it is not specifically written in the book of Maccabees, it goes without saying that all diets are automatically wavered for the eight days of the holiday as what can be more important than tradition?

The sufganiot craze is in full swing in Israel, with bakeries competing with each other to make the tastiest and most unique filling, sometimes overtaking themselves as in the weird invention of vodka jam filling ( for adults only).  Even now, before the actual holiday, which starts Friday night, bakeries are working around the clock to supply the huge influx of demand and are not always successful. Last Friday, Roladin Bakery in Rehovot, for example, ran out of sufganiots by the end of the day so it’s best to order them in advance. My favorite filling will always be dayglo strawberry jam, an Israeli classic which Lehem Toshia in Rishon Le Zion makes perfectly.

Lehem Toshia in Rishon Le Zion

The only thing that I wouldn’t mind avoiding during this season is hosting the school’s annual hannukiah (candelabrum) construction activity from recycled materials. This year the children worked well together and managed to build an interesting model as opposed to the previous year when they all decided to have tricycle competitions.  They were also well mannered except for the incident where a jar of gold glitter exploded all over the living room and again when they began using their dripping paint brushes as fencing foils, painting each other’s faces red and blue. I need to be a better supervisor but frankly the whole point of these projects is to let the children learn to work together, mess and all. There are some parents who think this is sort of a competition and take it much too seriously, moving their kids aside while they build the entire thing themselves.

Classmates and their hanukah creation

Now for my contribution to the Hanukah menu.

Cauliflower Fritters

This is a little different than potato pancakes but extremely tasty as my son, Uri, who likes neither cauliflower nor cheese, can testify. It is based on the recipe by Benny Saida (Cutlets, 2004 Modan Publishing House)

1 cauliflower, cut into large chunks

1 cup mixed herbs, chopped (I used a mixture of green onions and parsley)

250 gram kashkaval cheese or other goat cheese, grated (feta is also good)

1/2 cup bread crumbs

2-3 eggs

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Salt and pepper

Vegetable oil for frying

Flour for dredging

In a large pot put the cauliflower, cover with water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook until the cauliflower is soft, about 30 minutes. Let the cauliflower drain completely in a colander, about 30 minutes.

In a bowl mash the cauliflower and add the rest of the ingredients. The batter should loosely keep its shape when held; add a bit more bread crumbs if the batter is too wet. Heat vegetable oil in a pan, preferably made from cast iron. Using wet hands form round patties, dredge them in flour and fry them until they are golden brown, flip and fry the other side.

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Robin from Israel December 7, 2009 at 12:48 am

Yum, those look delicious. *goes off to add kashkeval to the shopping list (cauliflower’s already on it)*

PS No one has told my kids to make a hannukiyah yet. I keep waiting for the hammer to drop at the last minute…


Jamie December 7, 2009 at 12:57 am

Wow! Just found your blog (and you on twitter) thanks to Ms Gourmet and I love these fritters! Must make them for Hanukkah!


yael December 7, 2009 at 1:31 am

Lovely post. Hanuka is my favorite holiday as well. we host family and friends but in a fun informal way so its not a bother like Pesach (the dread of all holidays..) we’ll try the cauliflower fritters this Friday, all the family is coming over for first candle.


OysterCulture December 7, 2009 at 1:07 pm

What a great post, and as someone that’s not Jewish but wishes to learn more about the different holidays and traditions, I loved the insights you provided. Thank you! Not to mention the recipe, as I love fresh cauliflower and am licking my lips at the thought of cauliflower fritters no less.


Lori December 7, 2009 at 7:47 pm

That looks like it could be my dinner some time this week! Looks wonderful. And I enjoyed this post.


ABowlOfMush December 8, 2009 at 6:11 am

These sound absolutely delicious! I can’t wait to try this. Yum!


Cmiranda December 11, 2009 at 2:44 pm

The cauliflower fritters look absolutely delicious , really enjoyed the history behind the Hannukah celebration.


godzilla complex March 4, 2010 at 2:06 am

those look AMAZING. also, the boy bagging the donuts is super cute.


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