Hanukkah Foods from Around the World
Jews live all over the world, from Columbia to India to Ethiopia. They each have their own unique ways of celebrating Hanukkah, though fried foods are definitely what they have in common. Fried foods are eaten to symbolize the miracle of the oil that was used to light the menorah in the ancient temple for eight days and nights. In Italy, it's all about fried chicken. In Greece, you'll find honey-soaked doughnuts called loukoumades. Expand your Hanukkah menu this year with a few favorites similar to those enjoyed by Jews around the world.
These disc-shaped fried doughnuts are a Hanukkah tradition for Sephardic Jews — Jews originally from Spain who now live in many Latin countries, the Middle East, and North Africa. A drizzle of honey instead of powdered sugar is a special finishing touch for Hanukkah.
Gulab Jamun or Kala Jam (Waffle Balls)
In India, these doughnut-like spheres are soaked in a syrup with in a saffron and rosewater syrup. They'd make a show stopping finish to your Hanukkah party.
Crispy Zucchini Fritters
Keeping with the fried theme, these zucchini fritters are a great alternative to latkes for one of the many nights of Hanukkah. Similar leek fritters called keftes are a favorite for Syrian Jews at Hanukkah.
Italian Cream Cheese and Ricotta Cheesecake
Rome's unofficial Christmas dessert for cassola, a baked ricotta cheesecake, was originally created by Italian Jews and served during Hanukkah. This version, passed down by April Caudle's grandmother, got rave reviews. "Easily the BEST cheesecake I've ever eaten," says KateMac.
Easy Fried Eggplant
While Jews in Italy don't eat a lot of latkes, they do have many versions of fried eggplant, including ones especially for Hanukkah. Layer these golden fried slices with tomato sauce and mozzarella, or serve as is for a delicious side.
Cheese and Lemon Blintzes
You'll find blintzes in American Jewish delis and all over central European countries like Poland and Slovakia. They're enjoyed on Hanukkah in honor of Judith, a Jewish widow who slayed the Assyrian king after feeding him lots of cheese and wine.
Millie Pasquinelli's Fried Chicken
Jews in Tuscany have a fried chicken dish made just for Hanukkah that starts with marinating the chicken with lemon and warm spices like cinnamon and nutmeg. You can add those spices to the flour mixture for this traditional fried chicken recipe.
The story of Hanukkah centers on Jews who fought back against their Greek Assyrian rulers. So it makes perfect sense to serve these traditional honey-soaked Greek doughnuts during the holiday.
Quick Nariyal Burfi (Indian Coconut Fudge)
Jews in India eat burfi for Hanukkah, a sweet made with condensed milk, sugar, and nuts (kind of like fudge). This speedy version comes together in the microwave with coconut and sliced almonds.
Fried Plantains with Avocado Dip
Jews have been in Colombia since the end of the 18th century. You'll find fried plantains on the table at many Hanukkah celebrations there (and just about every meal during the year). "Easily a five star recipe," says bd.weld.