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Jewish Food Traditions: Potato Latkes And Tzimmes

Make sure the oil is nice and hot before frying the latkes. They'll absorb less oil and fry up crispy (WFIU)

We're looking toward Passover today by examining several Jewish food traditions.

Two recipes on the podcast today – potato latkes, a simple and versatile potato pancake that isa staple of Hanukkah celebrations, and then carrot, apple and sweet potato tzimmes, a dish of root vegetables and dried fruit simmered in honey that is often served at Rosh Hashanah.

The Passover Seder Explained

But first, a bit about passover. This year passover begins at sundown on March 29 and then goes until April 5.

A Seder traditionally marks the beginning of Passover – it's a time for families to gather around the dining room table recount the Biblical story of Exodus, as told through food.

On The Podcast: Earth Eats' Megan Meyer went over to the local Hillel Center to talk with Executive Director, Rabbi Sue Shifrin, about the highlights of a typical Passover Seder dinner.

Old Fashioned Potato Latkes

This take on potato pancakes is a dish that people grow up eating at big family meals, especially during the festival of Hanukkah.


  • 5 large russet potatoes, about 2-1/2 lbs total
  • 4 scallions- chopped fine
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour or more as needed
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons salt (potatoes need a lot)
  • freshly ground pepper
  • vegetable oil for frying
  • applesauce
  • sour cream for serving


  1. Peel the potatoes and grate them on the large holes of a hand-held grater.
  2. Transfer them to a sieve set over a bowl and, using your hands or the back of a wooden spoon, press out as much moisture as you can. Starch will collect under the potato water.
  3. Some cooks pour off the water and add the starch back to the potatoes, as a binder.
  4. Grate the onion on the same grater and combine it with the potato in a clean bowl. Add the potato starch, if you like.
  5. Beat the eggs in a small bowl.
  6. Add them to the potatoes, then stir in enough flour to make a light batter.
  7. Add the salt and the pepper to taste.
  8. Fry a nugget of the potato mixture, then taste it to make sure there's enough salt.
  9. In a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat, warm enough oil to come 1/8 to 1/4 inch up the sides of the pan. It should be good and hot but not smoking.
  10. Drop the batter by tablespoonfuls or 1/4 cupfuls into the hot oil.
  11. Gently press on them to flatten them out. Don't crowd the pan or the latkes will become soggy.
  12. Fry until golden on the bottom, about 3 minutes, then turn and brown the second side.
  13. Remove to paper towels to drain briefly, then serve as soon as you can, with the Applesauce and sour cream.

Carrot, Apple, and Sweet Potato Tzimmes

This dish of carrots and other root vegetables and dried fruits stewed in honey is traditionally served during Rosh Hashanah.

It's also a great dish to make this time of year, right before your garden starts to take off. Pick up some root vegetables and give it a shot.


  • 3 large carrots
  • 4 sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • salt, to taste
  • pepper, to taste
  • 2 teaspoons Sweet Seasons
  • 2 tablespoons Lemon Confit
  • 3 tablespoons margarine
  • 3 tart apples, peeled and sliced
  • 1 cup water


  1. Combine ingredients and add a cup of water.
  2. Cook, stirring, until water evaporates and carrots are tender and glazed.

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