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Jewish Food Traditions: Potato Latkes And Tzimmes

We're looking toward Passover Seder today on Earth Eats with two recipes - old fashioned potato latkes and carrot, apple and sweet potato tzimmes

passover seder plate

Photo: revenante (flickr)

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

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.

potato latkes with applesauce and sour cream

Photo: Adam Schweigert/WFIU

These potato latkes are excellent served with sour cream and applesauce.


  • 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.

fruit and root vegetable tzimmes

Photo: Adam Schweigert/WFIU

Tzimmes is a side dish that is a traditional part of a Rosh Hashanah meal. Carrots and other vegetables and dried fruits are slowly simmered with honey to make a sweet dish symbolizing a sweet new year.


  • 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.
Earth Eats Staff

Earth Eats Staff is a weekly podcast, public radio program and blog bringing you the freshest news and recipes inspired by local food and sustainable agriculture.

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  • Towerdelianddiner

    Thank you for a very informative and interesting piece on Passover food. These days, even non-Jewish people are getting interested in kosher food and they should. Kosher food are good for your health as they meticulously prepared. We are blessed with various kinds of food preparation and kosher style is truly one to be cherished.

  • florinefrancis

    I’m new to this and not Jewish, but I am very interested in these recipes. What is the Sweet Seasons? Is there a recipe for it or is it something I can purchase already made? Thanks!

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