Alan’s latkes have set a very high benchmark

  • Latkes
Chanukah without latkes... Unthinkable! But then there are latkes and latkes. And for the connoisseur, there’s Alan Bender’s latkes.
by ALAN BENDER | Dec 08, 2016

Bender is the master chef at Feigel’s in Johannesburg and a fellow of the SA Chef Association. He has added spice and variety to his basic latke recipe.

Alan Bender’s latke recipe


6 large potatoes peeled and left in water

1 large onion peeled

4 eggs

1 tablespoon salt

½ cup sugar (more or less)

½ to 1 cup flour

1 heaped teaspoon baking powder

Oil for frying


1: Fill a large pan one third of the way with oil, and heat to a medium temperature.

2: Grate the potatoes and onion into a bowl and add everything else. Fry a tablespoon of the mixture to test and taste to see if there is enough sugar, salt and flour, then adjust accordingly. If the latke disintegrates, add a little more flour and if it’s an oily heavy lump, add a little more baking powder and raise the heat of the oil.

3: Be careful of the hot oil. Wear long sleeves; always place the latke mixture in carefully and turn the latkes over away from you when one side is golden. Have a tray lined with absorbent paper to suck up the surface oil, ready to receive the cooked latkes.

Cooking tips:

• When turning the latkes, use a slotted spoon; it reduces the splash and helps the oil drain.

• The potatoes will start to weep water the moment they are mixed. Don’t add more flour; just use your fingers or a slotted spoon to separate the potato mix from the liquid, discarding the liquid left over.

Some variants on the latke:

The classic American sour cream or apple sauce is great, but we are South Africans, so try this for size:

1: Slip some fried fish fingers into the latke mix just before frying and as it comes out of the oil, place a slice of cheese on top so it melts slightly.

2: Place a piece of cooked wors in the middle and top with chakalaka.

3: Mix some fine biltong powder with mayo and use that as a dip.

4: Smoked salmon and cream cheese make a classic topping.

5: Pulled (shredded) beef in a sticky sauce is delicious.

6: Just before you put the latke in the oil, sprinkle over some corn flakes for extra crunch.

• If you don’t feel like potatoes, replace with grated butternut, sweet potato, tinned corn (not sweet corn) or just about any vegetable as the flour and egg will turn it into 


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