Recipe: Potato latkes for the festival of lights


I recently made a trip to Evanston, and was in awe of the depth of celebrations dedicated to Hanukkah. With one of the largest Jewish communities in Illinois, dating all the way back to the 1930s, Evanston was decorated with fluorescent menorahs and life size dreidels. So how could I resist? The answer: I could not. I pulled into the first Jewish deli within my eyeline, which happened to be Chicago’s renowned Kaufman’s Bagel and Delicatessen. I was introduced to the delicious smell of warm bagels and the sounds of holiday shopping. I grabbed a number and proceeded to stand in line behind a smiling old man. I did not leave empty handed– in fact, I practically crumbled under the weight of potato latkes, cheese blintzes, chicken schnitzel, berry strudel and a concerning amount of pumpernickel bagels. Don’t you worry my friends, you won’t be leaving empty handed either. 

With my new found enthusiasm to celebrate the Jewish holiday the best way I know how, eating of course, I went to an expert. This fine recipe comes from none other than Bob Bornfriend, my uncle’s father, who comes from a long line of Jewish men. But before we get to the age-old Jewish recipe graciously gifted to us by Bob, we need to learn some history. Hanukkah, also known as the festival of lights, is actually a minor Jewish festival, but largely celebrated due its proximity to Christmas. It originates from a story dating back to 168 B.C.E in which the Maccabees, a Jewish resistance group, rebelled against the Syrian occupation of Jerusalem. Hanukkah, meaning dedication, is a celebration of the victory of the Jewish people who reclaimed their Holy Temple, which had been seized by the Syrians. Fried food is commonly eaten during this time to remember the Miracle of the Oil, in which one small container of oil lit the menorah in the Holy Temple for eight days. One of these traditional fried foods happens to be, you guessed it, potato latkes. 


  • 1lb potatoes peeled and shredded
  • 1 large onion peeled and diced (use a cloth to squeeze liquid out of potatoes and onions)
  • 1 carrot
  • 2 eggs beaten (add to drained potatoes)
  • 3 tbsp flour or matzo meal
  • Salt and pepper
  • Garlic
  • Sunflower oil at medium heat


  1. In a bowl add potatoes and onions all squeezed out and add carrot
  2. Mix 2 eggs and add 3 tbsp flour mix, salt, pepper and garlic all together
  3. Add 3 tbsp oil and Matzo ingredients into a heated pan and cook until golden in pan on both sides
  4. Serve with sugar and applesauce

Happy cooking and happy holidays, however you may choose to celebrate!