When it comes to holiday menus, I tend to be a traditionalist. I believe in the power of ritual and predictability; I lean towards (nearly) the same menu for every Jewish holiday. My family knows what to expect when they sit down for a holiday meal in our house: freshly baked challah, chicken soup, brisket and plenty of desserts.
But this year for Chanukah, I’m tempted to break the cycle of predictability with a new recipe for latkes to share with my family and friends. A quick Google search for latkes turns up nearly five million results, everything from Classic Potato Latkes in The New York Times to Hatch Chile Latkes on a New Mexican blog, with millions of other recipes in between. Opening up any Jewish cookbook provides even more recipes for the traditional fried potato pancake—the possibilities seem endless!
I’m a fan of any recipe made from winter squash. Butternut, acorn, spaghetti—these are seasonal ingredients that excite me and fill me with lots of inspiration for making delicious meals. Spaghetti squash isn’t as popular as the others, so I decided to use this variety as a starting point for a new latke recipe. The natural golden hue of the squash evokes sunshine in the cold dark days. I accentuated the color with the addition of anti-inflammatory turmeric powder and pungent, spicy curry powder.
When I gather a crowd around my table to enjoy a meal, I want everyone to feel warmly welcomed and nourished. Ideally, each individual should to be able to eat the foods I’ve prepared, regardless of personal dietary preferences. These Curried Spaghetti Squash Latkes are grain-free (and thus gluten-free), making them suitable for anyone following a gluten-free diet. For those looking for a lower-starch option than white or sweet potatoes, spaghetti squash offers more nutrition. The latkes are also dairy free, making them appropriate to serve as part of a meat meal (use a non-dairy yogurt for topping).
As Jewish people have lived in nearly every corner of the globe, they have brought the native flavors of the land to the repertoire of Jewish cuisine. While curry powder and turmeric are not commonplace ingredients in Ashkenazic Jewish recipes, I’ve incorporated these intense seasonings into this adaptation of standard Eastern European fare. The results are a delight to the taste buds and will bring a bright pop of color to your Chanukah feast.
As you light the Chanukah candles, think of the culinary traditions of the Jewish people all over the world. Our differences may seem vast, but our love for the traditional foods of the holiday unites us together.