It wouldn't be Hanukah without a freshly fried platter of latkes to share with the ones you love. This year, I received a text from Alex's aunt Diana recommending I put saffron in my latkes. I immediately kicked myself for not thinking of it first, since it was such a genius idea. By adding crushed saffron into the latke mixture, not only did you get a gorgeous golden color, but each latke tasted like pieces of potato tahdig. Needles to say, these were probably the best latkes I've ever made.
The trick with frying latkes is truly getting you hands in the mixture and feeling it. Matzo meal, egg and potato starch bind these bad boys together, but your sense of feel is most important. The longer the mixture sits, the more liquid gets pulled out of the potato and onion. If you mixture begins to feel too lose, sprinkle in a little extra matzo meal.
As for the accoutrements, I always have been a fan of cold applesauce with my latkes. By keeping it cold you can protect your fingers as you shovel in burning hot latkes straight from the oil. However, since I was going non-traditional, I wanted to play around and make an advieh-spiced yogurt dip. Advieh is the Persian term for spice mix, often sold in packages catered to whatever you're seasoning, whether it be rice, meat or fish. Consisting of a blend of turmeric, cardamom, cinnamon, clove and cumin, it's the perfect flavor profile for a creamy and tangy dip for the latkes. Simply stir 1 teaspoon advieh into 1 cup whole Greek yogurt and season with salt.
Yield: About 8 latkes
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
1/8 teaspoon saffron threads, crushed
1 pound russet potatoes, peeled and quartered
¼ yellow onion
3 tablespoons matzo meal, plus more as needed
2 teaspoons kosher salt
Vegetable oil, for frying
In a medium bowl, whisk the egg with the crushed saffron until smooth, then set aside.
Using the grater attachment for the food processor, coarsely grate the potatoes and onion. Transfer to a bowl lined with cheesecloth and wring the cloth to squeeze out any liquid. Transfer the squeezed potatoes and onion, the matzo meal and salt to the bowl with the egg and toss until incorporated. Pour the liquid squeezed out from the potatoes into the sink, scraping off any potato starch left at the bottom of the bowl and mixing it into the latke mixture.
Heat ¼ inch of vegetable oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches, scoop ⅓ cup balls of the mixture and drop in the pan. Using a spatula, smash the latkes to flatten. Cook, flipping once, until golden, 2 to 3 minutes per side, then transfer to a plate lined with paper towels to drain. Serve with applesauce or spiced yogurt.