In 2012, Hanukkah runs from December 8th (this Saturday) to December 16th, with the dates changing every year. The holiday has origins in keeping a candle lit by oil, and therefore, much of the food related to this holiday involve oil.
Either baked or fried, many of the foods use oil in some regard. The most iconic of these foods is the latke, Yiddish for “potato pancake”. Jam-filled donuts are common amongst some families, and bimuelos (fried dough balls, similar to donut holes) and sufganiyah (two circles of dough covering a jam and fried together) continue the trend of fried sweets.
For a main meal, challah bread, beef brisket, and kugel are staples.
- Challah is a braided bread that is traditionally parve (containing no dairy or meat), sometimes including raisins or topped with sesame seeds.
- Beef brisket is one of the most popular cuts, and can be turned into corned beef or pastrami. For a meal such as this, it is traditionally braised as a pot roast.
- Kugel is a casserole, traditionally composed of egg noodles or potatoes. Some believe eating this dish brings special spiritual blessings.
Much of this meal can be prepared in advance, requiring little work to be done when it’s time to eat. Even if you don’t celebrate the holiday, foods traditional to it are delicious and interesting, if you’ve never had the chance.