Latkes and Indian Spiced Potato Pancakes

potato pancakes and Indian-Spiced Potato Pancakes

When I was a kid, I was envious of those who were Jewish. It has nothing to do with my interest in the faith, the appeal of its strong community, or the preservation of very old traditions. Rather, it came down to simple mathematics; with eight being decidedly greater than one, I was convinced that Christmas-celebrators were being shortchanged days of celebration.

frying

Now I’m grown up and about to marry a Jewish man, and through our courtship I’ve discovered something entirely different to envy about the chosen people – their delicious and comforting foods. It’s a stretch for me to choose, but if I had to pick my favorite from the mass of sumptuous kugels, brisket, noodle pudding, lox, and knish I’ve enjoyed, I’d still have to say that latkes (potato pancakes) are the dish that I look forward to more than any other.

mandolin

This year, Brian’s family has exploded with craziness and we just couldn’t find a way for us all to get together for Hanukkah this year, so we decided to celebrate a little early on our own by making potato pancakes two ways – the traditional latke with sour cream and homemade apple puree, and a potato pancake dressed up with ingredients and spices reminiscent of potato dishes from our neighborhood Indian joints.

apple sauce

For both pancakes, I had two objectives in mind: a crispy crust on the outside, and mealy texture (as opposed to just mashed potatoes) within. With the help of a very hot cast iron skillet, and my mandolin slicer (using it to julienne the potatoes rather than just grating them into small, uneven shavings), both of these qualities were achieved.

Indian spices

We were delighted with the results of both, and each on our third pancake, had to remind ourselves that restraint is in order when eating a whole meal consisting of fried potatoes. I enjoyed alternating bites from each type of pancake, delighting in sweet/salty/creamy/crunchy contrast of the traditional pancake, and cleansing my palate a bit with the spicy and citrus flavor from the more contemporary model.

Indian potato pancakes

Latkes and Indian Spiced Potato Pancakes
Adapted from Epicurious, December 2005

1 medium onion, peeled4 large russet or Idaho potatoes (about 3 1/2 pounds), peeled2 large eggs2 tablespoons all-purpose flour6 tablespoons vegetable oil6 tablespoons unsalted butterApplesauce and/or sour cream, for serving
Preheat oven to 200°F. Place 2 nonstick baking sheets in oven.
Using box grater or food processor fitted with grating disc, coarsely grate onion and place in colander set in sink. Coarsely grate potatoes, add to colander, and set aside to drain.
In large mixing bowl, lightly beat eggs, then whisk in flour.
Press potatoes and onion to extract as much liquid as possible, then add to egg/flour mixture. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Using wooden spoon or hands, mix well, but do not overwork.
In heavy-bottomed, 12-inch skillet over moderately high heat, heat 1 tablespoon oil and 1 tablespoon butter until hot but not smoking. Drop 4 scant 1/4-cup portions of potato mixture into pan and flatten with spatula to form four 3-inch pancakes.
Fry until bottoms are golden-brown, 4 to 5 minutes, then turn over and fry until golden-brown and crisp, an additional 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain; season immediately with salt and pepper. Keep warm on baking sheets in oven while making remaining pancakes.
Using paper towels, carefully wipe out pan. Add 1 tablespoon oil and 1 tablespoon butter and fry 4 more pancakes. Repeat with remaining batter, wiping out pan and adding 1 tablespoon oil and 1 tablespoon butter before each batch.
Serve pancakes hot with applesauce and/or sour cream.
Classic Latkes
1 medium onion, peeled
4 large russet or Idaho potatoes (about 3 1/2 pounds), peeled
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons – 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
6 tablespoons vegetable oil
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
Applesauce and/or sour cream, for serving
Preheat oven to 200°F. Place 2 nonstick baking sheets in oven.
Using box grater or food processor fitted with grating disc, coarsely grate onion and place in colander set in sink. Coarsely grate potatoes, add to colander, and set aside to drain.
In large mixing bowl, lightly beat eggs, then whisk in 2 tablespoons of flour. Press potatoes and onion to extract as much liquid as possible, then add to egg/flour mixture. Add additional flour, one tablespoon at a time, if there is liquid pooling at the bottom, and stir to incorporate. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Using wooden spoon or hands, mix well, but do not overwork.
In heavy-bottomed, 12-inch skillet (cast iron works best) over moderately high heat, heat 1 tablespoon oil and 1 tablespoon butter until hot but not smoking. Drop 4 scant 1/4-cup portions of potato mixture into pan and flatten with spatula to form four 3-inch pancakes.
Fry until bottoms are golden-brown, 4 to 5 minutes, then turn over and fry until golden-brown and crisp, an additional 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain; season immediately with salt and pepper. Keep warm on baking sheets in oven while making remaining pancakes.
Using paper towels, carefully wipe out pan. Add 1 tablespoon oil and 1 tablespoon butter and fry 4 more pancakes. Repeat with remaining batter, wiping out pan and adding 1 tablespoon oil and 1 tablespoon butter before each batch.

Serve pancakes hot with applesauce and/or sour cream.

Indian Spiced Potato Pancakes

1/2 cup frozen peas
1 medium onion, peeled
4 large russet or Idaho potatoes (about 3 1/2 pounds), peeled
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 1/2 teaspoons ground turmeric
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons minced peeled fresh ginger
2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
6 tablespoons vegetable oil
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
Greek yogurt
1 lime

Preheat oven to 200°F. Place 2 nonstick baking sheets in oven.

In small saucepan, bring salted water to boil. Add peas and cook, uncovered, until heated through, about 2 to 3 minutes. Drain, then rinse in colander under cool, running water. Set aside in colander to drain completely.

Using a mandolin (set to 1/8th inch matchsticks), (or a box grater or a food processor fitted with grating disc) coarsely grate the potatoes and place in colander set in sink. Coarsely grate the onion using a box grater or a food processor fitted with grating disc , add to colander, and set aside to drain.

In large mixing bowl, lightly beat eggs. Whisk in flour, coriander, turmeric, and cumin. Mix in ginger, cilantro, and peas.

Press potatoes and onion to extract as much liquid as possible, then add to bowl. Season mixture with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Using wooden spoon or hands, mix well, but do not overwork. Add additional flour, a tablespoon at a time, if the mixture still has a pool of liquid on the bottom.

In heavy-bottomed, 12-inch skillet (cast iron is highly suggested) over moderately high heat, heat 1 tablespoon oil and 1 tablespoon butter until hot but not smoking. Drop 4 scant 1/4-cup portions of potato mixture into pan and flatten with spatula to form four 3-inch pancakes.

Fry until bottoms are golden-brown, 4 to 5 minutes, then turn over and fry until golden-brown and crisp, an additional 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain; season immediately with salt and pepper. Keep warm on baking sheets in oven while making remaining pancakes.

Combine 1 cup Greek yogurt with the juice of 1 lime and whisk to incorporate. Set aside for serving or store in an airtight container in the fridge.

Using paper towels, carefully wipe out pan. And 1 tablespoon oil and 1 tablespoon butter and fry 4 more pancakes. Repeat with remaining batter, wiping out pan and adding 1 tablespoon oil and 1 tablespoon butter before each batch.

Serve pancakes hot with lime yogurt and wedges of lime.

6 Comments

  1. Posted December 9, 2009 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

    I love the idea of Indian spiced potato pancakes! I suspect I could eat an awful lot of those.

    Have read your blog for awhile but neglected to post many comments. I really enjoy it, and just sent some blog love your way over at mine, The Hungry Dog.

  2. Posted December 10, 2009 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

    YUM!!!! Must try these as soon as possible.

  3. Posted December 11, 2009 at 1:44 am | Permalink

    It’s so nice to meet you! I came here by way of Hungry Dog’s wonderful blog and I’m so glad I did. I thoroughly enjoyed reading your post. I’m Jewish now living in an area with a very small Jewish population. I’m going to be sure to have my kids read your post because they have a bit of Christmas envy going on now due to seeing it all around and not much about Chanukah. I’ll be making traditional latkes tomorrow night and will most certainly make your Indian Spiced ones another night. I look forward to following your blog.

  4. Posted December 11, 2009 at 11:26 am | Permalink

    Hungry Dog – Thank you so much for the blog love!

    Cookbook Apprentice – It can’t be easy for them since Christmas is everywhere. Even in NYC, which I’m guessing has the biggest Jewish population per square foot, it’s all X-mas, all the time. Be sure to shower them in gelt!

  5. Posted December 11, 2009 at 7:43 pm | Permalink

    The pancakes look gorgeous… a jumble of color and the smell must be heaven.. glad I found you.

  6. Ivana
    Posted January 13, 2010 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

    The Indian ones are AMAZING. Besides the peas, I put in some carrot and sweetcorn because they were in the mix with peas, and it’s wonderful. I’m all for Indian cuisine and spices so I love them. Thanks for sharing these!

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