Curried Sweet Potato Pancakes

I tend to stay away from fried, carb-laden foods but for Hanukkah I cave in to tradition. Eating fried food is, after all, the whole point and these sweet potato pancakes — deliciously spiced with an aromatic blend of curry, cumin, ginger and cayenne pepper —  are worth every bite. Don’t think of them just for Hanukkah. They make a fabulous, all-around fall or winter side dish.

If you're worried about the curry being too strong, I can tell you that the flavor is obvious without being overwhelming (and I say that as a person who likes her curry in small doses). However, they're a bit spicy and exotic tasting so, unless you have adventurous eaters, I'd serve them to adults rather than children.

Curried Sweet Potato Pancakes
Based on a recipe from Jewish Cooking in America by Joan Nathan

makes about 16 3-inch pancakes

1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled (1-2 sweet potatoes, depending on size)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
scant 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (use less if you don't like heat)
2 teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon salt
2 scallions, thinly sliced
2 large eggs, beaten
4 tablespoons milk
peanut oil for frying
applesauce, optional for serving

Coarsely grate sweet potatoes in food processor (you can also use a hand grater). Set aside.

Combine flour, brown sugar, baking powder, cayenne, curry powder, cumin, ginger, and salt in medium bowl and mix well. Add scallions, eggs, 4 tablespoons milk and sweet potatoes and stir to combine. Batter should be moist but not runny; if too stiff, add a tablespoon more milk at a time until consistency is right.

Line a baking sheet with several paper towels and set next to stove. Heat 1/4-inch of oil in large nonstick skillet until barely smoking. Drop heaping tablespoons (about 1/8 cup) in oil and flatten with back of spoon. Fry over medium-high heat several minutes on each side until golden. Drain on paper towels and serve immediately. Serve with applesauce if desired.

Ideally, these should sweet potato pancakes should be served right away. To reheat leftovers, place sweet potato pancakes on rack over baking sheet in 350 degree oven until hot and crisp.

Jennifer Segal is the founder and publisher of Once Upon a Chef, a cooking blog featuring easy and elegant recipes. Before launching her blog, Jennifer earned her culinary stripes working front and back of the house at some of DC's top fine dining restaurants, including L'Auberge Chez Francois, Sam & Harry's and The Caucus Room.

She has also done private catering and resta urant public relations. Jennifer is a graduate of the professional Culinary Arts Program at L'Academie de Cuisine.