Curried Potato and Squash Latkes

Recipe and photo by Tami Ganeles Weiser Yield:  40 3-inch latkes
Prep Time:  15 minutes Cook Time:  30 minutes

Curried Potato and Squash Latkes

These latkes are not the typical potato and onion pancakes most of us know, but they are incredibly aromatic and delicious. Using the food processor to grate the potatoes makes quick work of this chore.

Ingredients

¼ teaspoon fennel seeds, toasted and ground (see Kitchen Tip)

½ teaspoon cumin seeds, toasted and ground  (see Kitchen Tip)

¾ teaspoon fenugreek, toasted and ground  (see Kitchen Tip)

¼ teaspoon black cardamom seeds, toasted and ground (see Kitchen Tip) (optional)

1 teaspoon ground turmeric

½ teaspoon asafoetida (optional)

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

1½ teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste

½ teaspoon freshly ground white pepper

2 cloves garlic, peeled, cut in half, any green center discarded

3 large (1½ to 2 pounds) russet potatoes

½ medium yellow onion (about 2½ ounces)

½ cup canned unseasoned pumpkin or butternut squash

1 cup cashew flour or finely ground cashews or almond meal

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 large eggs

1 cup olive oil, for frying

Instructions

  1. Combine the fennel, cumin, fenugreek, and cardamom in a large mixing bowl. Add the turmeric, asafoetida, cinnamon, 1½ teaspoons salt, and the white pepper. Grate the garlic. Peel and grated the potatoes and onion. (The easiest way to do this is in a food processor fitted with a grating disc.)
  2. Add the garlic, potatoes, onions, and pumpkin to the the spice mixture and mix well to combine. Add the flour and baking powder and mix to incorporate. Add the eggs and mix gently.
  3. Pour the oil into a skillet and affix a kitchen thermometer to it (or use an instant-read thermometer). Heat over high heat until the oil reaches 375°F (see Kitchen Tip). While the oil is heating, line a sheet pan or large platter with paper towels and position it near the stove (but not so near that it will create a fire hazard!).
  4. Scoop up 1 tablespoon of the potato mixture, carefully drop it into the hot oil, and flatten it slightly with the back of the spoon. Add 2 or 3 more scoops of batter to the pan, making sure not to crowd it, and cook for 1½ to 2 minutes per side, turning gently with 2 fish spatulas. As soon as the latkes are a caramel-brown color, transfer to the prepared platter or pan. Repeat with the remaining potato mixture to make a total of 40 latkes. As the number of latkes increases, place another double layer of paper towels on top of the first layer, so that the newly cooked ones can drain. Layer the latkes and paper towels as the latkes come out of the pan as needed. Salt the tops lightly and serve immediately.

Kitchen Tips

  1. To toast spices, pour the whole seeds into a frying pan or cast-iron skillet and set over medium heat. Toast for 10 to 20 seconds, or up to 1 minute, until fragrant. Watch carefully so the spices do not burn. Note that roasted ground spices are increasingly available in well-stocked supermarkets, and they are worth seeking out, as the roasting amplifies their flavor. If you can’t find them, however, buy whole seeds and use this quick recipe. Don’t try roasting ground spices; it makes a mess! Buy whole seeds, roast them, and when they have cooled a bit, grind them in a spice grinder, mini-food-processor or coffee grinder that is dedicated to spices.
  2. If you are using whole cardamom pods, you will need to extract the seeds before toasting: place the pods on a cutting board. Using the flat side of a large chef’s knife, (being careful not to have the blade face you), gently press on the pods. The seeds will start popping out. Gather up the tiny seeds to use in your recipe
  3. If you don’t have a kitchen thermometer, you can heat the oil over medium heat and carefully drop in a small piece (about an inch square) of bread. If it turns brown all over and floats to the surface in 60 seconds, the oil is about 350°F to 365°F. If it browns sooner, the temperature is higher: 20 seconds and it’s somewhere between 382°F and 390°F; 40 seconds and it’s between 365°F and 382°F.

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