Skip to main content
Visit the Midday Edition homepage

The Foods Of Hanukkah

December 5, 2018 1:43 p.m.

The Foods Of Hanukkah


Mussie Begun, co-director, Chabad of Chula Vista

Related Story: The Foods Of Hanukkah


This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

This is KPBS midday edition.

I'm Maureen Cavanaugh and I'm Jade Hindmon. Today we take a look at the festival of Hanukkah. This year it began the evening of Sunday December 2nd and is celebrated through Monday December 10th Hanukkah celebrates the victory of the Maccabees. A small band of faithful Jews over their oppressors in their struggle for religious freedom in Israel. Hanukkah is filled with symbolism especially on the dinner table which takes me to the kitchen of Miss mussy begun where I learned how to make latkes Miss began as a chef in her own right who is co director of Chabad of Chula Vista.

I'm here in the kitchen with Ms Musti begun. She's the director of Shabat Chula Vista and we're going to talk about Hanukkah. We're going to talk about latkes and we're going to talk about how it all became tradition. Thank you for joining us.

So we've got all this great stuff out. Tell me what do we start with making latkes and what are they. What are they. So latkes are potato pancakes and we just make a combination of potatoes onions. Eggs.

Flour salt pepper and then we fry them off to commemorate the miracle of the oil.

So we'll start with just Grading 3 recip potatoes. It doesn't matter what kind of potato you use. No. You can use whatever you prefer and. You can also use a box grater or any other kind of greater that you have. I'm using a food processor but scrapers work especially when you do a small amount. Right. And it looks like it's just about three so how many can you make with the three potatoes. I would take a dozen. Yeah. So we're going to get.

Potatoes in here. And then I already greeted half an onion. Right here. Again I use the white name. There's a yellow onion. All right. Have a quarter of a cup of.

Flowers for it. Right. Two eggs that we checked for blood. And also a teaspoon of kosher salt.

Freshly ground.

I noticed applesauce is that applesauce. You know that is applesauce. OK. How does that fit into the recipe. I don't know where it came from but some people just love them all because with applesauce and that kind of became Terentia kind of a sweet and savory Yeah. I prefer the salad. OK. But some people are just crazy over it. And so OK we're going to head over to the oil. So we're going to put these in the oil. But what's the story behind the oil.

OK so the story behind the oil is back when the Maccabees went over the Greek Raker Presser's they came to the temple and they want to light the menorah and they only found one little jug of oil that was enough to last for one night. But when one day when they lit it where I could see stay lit for eight nights which was how long it would take to produce new pure oil. And so to commemorate that miracle we find oil so one of the food we eat is potato latkes. And right over here you'll see we have some.

Doughnuts and then I have some other Hanukkah treats. Different people make different kinds of latkes you can make sweet potato latkes zucchini latkes or whatever you like.

So kind of just filling them in. They don't need to be even the little crispy bits that fly off are actually the best part. So how do you know when the oil is hot enough when you kind of go like put your hand up here and then feel it. Yeah it sucks but you'll feel the heat. And is this olive oil or canola oil you can as much trouble to Apple. I haven't tried olive oil. I'm sure it works but it has a stronger taste. OK. So I going to leave these for a little bit.

Once you start seeing the edges turn nice golden brown they're ready to flip. Sure a couple minutes per side should it take too long and already it smells great. Oh yeah that's the onions frying in there. How long should they fry. How do you know when they're done.

These lip balm. Yeah we will flip them they don't look ready just yet once the outside gets that really golden color. And I'm like wow you sound like crazy. Yeah. That's all of the magic. I would say probably four minutes four or five minutes on the first time that the other three for me.

Why did you think it was important to open up this center here in Chula Vista.

So we were looking to open a new center and we looked into a couple different places and then a friend of ours actually mentioned this and there wasn't really a lot of Jewish life there but there were a lot of Jewish people. And so we came down to check out. Shulevitz. And there really are a lot of Jewish people. Every day we're hearing meet more Jewish people. We already know a couple hundred and we estimate about fifteen hundred to 2000 Jewish families just enjoy all this stuff. And what do you want people to know about the Jewish faith really.

Each one of us just added a few deeds of goodness and kindness little small things hold a door for someone coming in behind you smile at someone say good morning. The little things in life offering you know an elderly person to carry their groceries. Those are the things that are actually changed the world to make it a better place. That is really the message of Hanukkah. Small little things add them a little bit of it was still so much darkness. And that's all changed.

It's beautiful. All right. Let's check how these look. Here we go.

The train them on the paper towel and once they take on that golden brown color with crispy edges. Yeah. You know they're done. And you can also tell they're done by the smell you can remove it. So Volke will cramp this one right here and here we'll do so with a fork like we know what we're doing here.

The apple sauce is the decider on top thing. People like it on top of a cake. Well then what we're doing. It's going on top. And these are it's really it's crispy on the outside and then really kind of like a potato cake on the inside. Yeah yeah. It's a potato pancake Yeah.

Well it's good and all they're really on them all year. We love them but. I don't always fry them I make them sometimes is a big like a big Cogill like a cake in the oven. So the same recipe just pop into the oven a little bit healthier.

Miss Massey begun. Thank you so much for inviting us into your kitchen. Coming and sharing the story of Hanukkah with pleasure. Happy Hanukkah.

Happy Hanukkah to everybody.