Long before Hanukkah became synonymous with fried foods, it was a holiday associated with dairy. The origin of the custom is the story of Judith, daughter of a famous priestly family who saved Jerusalem from occupation by the Babylonian army. Judith seduced Holofernes – the minister of the Assyrian army who wanted to conquer Jerusalem – and fed him salty and thirst inducing cheese that made him drink a lot of wine and fall asleep. When he slept she cut off his head and thus prevented the city from falling.
This story actually took place a few hundred years before the Maccabees, but was mistakenly attributed to Hanukkah – perhaps because the daughter of Matthew the priest was also named Judith – and cheese dishes became mandatory items on the holiday menus of many Jewish communities. According to food researcher Gil Marks, the original Hanukkah latkes are actually made with cheese, since potatoes only arrived in Europe much later, after the discovery of America.
In some communities it is still customary to eat dairy – Marks attributes these ricotta pancakes to the Roman Jewish community. We fell in love with them, regardless of where they came from, their wonderful pillowy texture and the delicate taste that pairs with any garnish – they are wonderful with a drizzle of honey and fruit, but also with sour cream and herbs.
Ingredients for Ricotta Pancakes
- 1 cup (230 grams) ricotta fresca
- 3 eggs large
- 2 tablespoons Sugar
- ¼ cup (20 grams) קמח
- 1 teaspoon Salt
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- a little neutral - flavored oil for frying
1. Beat ricotta, eggs and sugar until smooth. Add flour, salt and baking powder and mix to a uniform and thick mixture.
2. Heat oil in a non-stick pan.
3. Pour a spoonful or two of the batter into the pancake pan and flatten slightly with the back of a spoon. Fry for 2-3 minutes on each side until golden brown.