When I was the food columnist for Reform Judaism Magazine, a reader requested traditional Hanukkah recipes that she could eat. She could not eat foods that contained gluten, so flour and matzo meal were not allowed. So I created this recipe, whose roots are in Ethiopia, as a tribute to the Beta Israel Ethiopian Jewish community.
The flavors in this dish are commonly found in Ethiopian cooking. Teff is the smallest cultivated grain in the world that grows in the mountains of Ethiopia and it also happens to be gluten-free. It has a mild, slightly molasses-like sweetness that goes well with many vegetables besides those in this recipe.
Ground teff seeds are the basis for injera bread, that spongy, slightly sour, soft flat bread that is used as an edible plate and fork at Ethiopian meals.
Teff can be found in many supermarkets. Whole Foods and other health-oriented supermarket chains as well as health food stores will carry it. As an alternative, I suggest ground flax seed which will also help the latkes hold together.
Children of all ages can help make the batter for the sweet potato and carrot latkes, but only children over the age of 8 or 9 should be allowed to fry the pancakes. Since this mixture has so much natural moisture there is a stronger likelihood that the oil will splatter so taller children should only be allowed to work at the stove. Younger children can watch, but NOT sitting on the countertop near by.
What’s even better are the kitchen conversations cooking with kids inspires. Talk about the story of Hanukkah and its use of oil. Do you think Ethiopians told this story to their children? Why would they? Why would they not tell this story? What other vegetables can you add in place of the potato or carrot to create your own holiday treat? Write down your ideas to make another time.
Sweet potato and carrot latkes with the teff flour create a high nutrient dish that could easily serve as an entrée with fruit sauce and Greek yogurt or sour cream. Kids love the color and taste, too!