Most of us associate Hanukkah with the potato pancakes called latkes. But doughnuts? In fact, both foods share the same tradition. A brief history lesson: When the Jews defeated the Syrians in 165 B.C. to reclaim the Holy Land (the victory Hanukkah celebrates), they had only a tiny amount of oil to relight the eternal flame in the Temple of Jerusalem. Yet the oil burned for eight days. Today, cooking with oil at Hanukkah recalls that miracle.
Lauren Groveman, the cookbook author and TV and radio host, looks to Hanukkah as an opportunity to experiment with all kinds of frying, from Chinese noodles to Indian bread. But her most popular fried foods are her doughnuts: cakey, cinnamon-scented ones and fluffy, slightly crispy yeast ones. At Groveman's Hanukkah parties, her teenage children and the neighborhood kids glaze and decorate the doughnuts with coconut, chopped nuts and sprinkles. Hanukkah may be only eight days long, but the demand for Groveman's doughnuts persists all year round.