The first time I recall having a potato latke made from scratch was when we were visiting my neighbors during Chanukah. When my parents moved into their current neighborhood, the house diagonal to ours was purchased by a lovely elderly couple, and not having their own grandchildren very nearby (yet), they struck up a friendship with my parents and the three little girls living across the street. We’d give them Christmas cookies and visit in passing as we grew. They’d come to birthday parties and 4th of July celebrations, and they would share life lessons learned by N’s time in the Navy and S’s experiences as a wife and mother.
Some years we would go over and visit them one evening for Chanukah. We would often come over after the candle lighting, but sometimes we were present for it too. While there we would play dreidl and enjoy good conversation. Sometimes their sons and related families would be there too, making it quite the party! One year, their son G, who is a phenomenal cook, made latkes for everyone from scratch. Having only tried box mix previously, I was naturally in love with the “real” version and started making them this way at home.
I know pan fried potato pancakes aren’t exactly a health food, but they make such a delicious treat and, as a non-Jew currently unaware of any rules as to when one can enjoy them, I make them a few times a year to go with various meals. We were about due for a round last week, but I really wanted sweet potatoes as well, and something spicy. So we skip the applesauce, sour cream, and white potatoes and create something new!
And it was good. Very good actually, with steak, and eggs, and cold out of the refrigerator. I swear it’s the chipotle. The mild heat is barely there at first and then builds slowly as you keep eating, never reaching a too-spicy unbearable level, only getting to an addicting barely-medium heat that has you reaching for one more.
Best of all, I’m sure you have most if not all the ingredients on hand right now, so print, pin or share the recipe so you don’t lose it and get to work! Enjoy!
- 1½ lb sweet potatoes (yams)
- ½ large sweet onion
- 3 tbsp. almond meal (or matzo meal or all-purpose flour)
- 1½ tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp chipotle chili
- 1 large egg
- ½ tsp baking powder
- ¼ c vegetable oil for frying (I prefer avocado)
- Wash, peel, and grate your sweet potatoes and onion. You may either do this by hand (use the large holes on the grater) or with a food processor or mixer attachment. Mix the onion and sweet potatoes together in a bowl and cover with water. Let stand for 3-5 minutes. Start heating 2 tbsp. of the frying oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
- Drain off as much of the water as possible and then squeeze as much of the water out of the potatoes and onions as you can. This is an important step to get crispy latkes!
- Add the almond meal, kosher salt, chili, and baking powder to the potatoes, mixing well. Beat the egg lightly in a small bowl then add to the potato mixture and stir again. You want everything to be very well combined.
- By now your oil should be ready. Drop the potato mixture into the oil in rounded tablespoons, pressing flat. Cook in batches, about 2 minutes on each side until golden brown. Add the remaining oil when the pan is too dry.
- Drain the latkes on a paper towel-lined plate and serve warm.