Hanukkah recipes from around the world

Flavorful Foods for Hanukkah Celebrations 2021

Traditional Hanukkah recipes to make during the eight days of the holiday.

Photo by: pxhere.com

Traditional Hanukkah recipes to make during the eight days of the holiday.

During the eight-night-long Festival of Lights, those of Jewish heritage come together to light the menorah, play with dreidels, exchange gifts, tell stories of Jewish history and cook traditional food during Hanukkah celebrations. Although certain foods have become synonymous with the religion, such as latkes and bagels with lox, Jewish people around the world actively combine their Jewish roots with the cultural food in the area, creating deliciously unique dishes for significant Jewish holidays. 

Originating from Eastern Europe, Latkes are one of the most popular Hanukkah foods worldwide. The potato is fried in oil, which most foods for Hanukkah are, to represent the miracle of the holiday. Latkes are a variation of another savory treat found around the world known in South America as potato pancakes, in Germany as Kartoffellpuffer and in Sweden as Potatisplättar.

Spain brings a cheesy twist to traditional fried Hanukkah treats with Bunuelos. Although there are many variations of Bunuelos, the round, cheese-filled version is most commonly eaten during Hanukkah. This is perhaps a nod to the story of the Jewish heroine Judith who tricked Holofernes, an Assyrian general who wished to attack the Jews. She treated him to a lavish feast of cheese and wines before beheading him.

Keftes de Espinaca are spinach-filled delights found in Syria and Spain. Keftes in general are small patties or croquettes, usually made with vegetables and are a variation of Middle Eastern/Arab Kuftas, which are usually simple, well-seasoned meatballs.

Sufganiyot are of Israeli/Palestinian origin but have risen in popularity in the United States and Northern Europe. These sweet, jelly-filled doughnuts became a Hanukkah staple in Europe in the late 16th century and were later brought to the United States by traveling students or immigrants seeking to settle down here. Although they tend to be fairly difficult to make perfectly, the hard work is more than worth it for these sugary treats.

Kala Jamun is a variation of Gulab Jamun, both originating in India. These sweet, syrup-covered balls have one main difference though, which is the color. Gulab Jamun are made in varying shades of golden-brown, while Kala Jamun are cooked over a lower temperature flame to achieve a much deeper shade of purple-brown so they nearly appear black.

Loukoumades are crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside Greek desserts drowned in honey. Loukoumades are a variation of the Turkish treat Lokma, which is usually covered in a simple syrup. The name Lokma, which means “morsel,” or “bite,” is reflective of the conveniently tiny size of the Turkish variation, while the Greek variation often comes slightly larger.

Frittelle di Chanukah are Hanukkah fritters of Italian descent. In Italy, the popularity of these sweet fritters trumps that of  latkes and dominates the local Hanukkah-themed cuisine. These can be filled with different dried fruits and are often topped with sprinkles, powdered sugar or honey.

In many nations around the world, the local culture intertwines with the traditions of its Jewish occupants, creating special and distinct holiday traditions. The creation of more personal holiday practices allows those of Jewish descent to embrace more aspects of their culture. Not to mention, the spread of these practices through traditional cooking allows people to connect from opposite ends of the world and embrace the culture of others as well.