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Sufganiyot (filled doughnuts) gone wild

Did Michelle Boorstein's story today about the Hanukkah treats at the Kosher Pastry Oven in Kemp Mill ignite a sudden craving for filled doughnuts? Later this afternoon, we'll post a list of our Hanukkah favorite recipes from the archives. For now, In honor of the first night of Hanukkah, Israeli-born Washington catererer Vered Guttman sheds light on the ever-expanding spectrum of sufganiyot in her native country. -- Bonnie Benwick

An Israeli offering. (

Some 2,000 years ago in Jerusalem, a miracle happened. After three years of fighting the Greeks, the victorious Maccabees returned to the Temple to find just one small jug of oil, enough to light their menorah for only one day. But once they lit it, a miracle happened. It burned for eight days.

And somehow, this has morphed into: Celebrate by eating fried food!

Jews all over the Diaspora had their own fried dishes to celebrate Hanukkah: the Moroccan Sfinj doughnut, the Yemenite Zalabia, the Iraqi Zingoula, the Bulgarian Mechitsas. But the most popular are the latkes and sufganiyot.

The sufganiyot, jelly doughnuts, take center-stage in Israel. When I was growing up, there was only one kind of doughnut you could find this time of year: a big, heavy, soft fried one. They were often so big that they sometimes weren't even cooked through. The doughnuts were filled with bright red jelly and covered with confectioners' sugar. If you were lucky, you would get one just as they arrived at your local grocery store. (Sufganiyot were still on sale a day or two later. By then, they would be hard as a rock.)

As the years passed, Israelis developed more sophisticated palates and began to search for inspiration inside the country and overseas. And sufganiyot began to evolve, too. I've seen flavors including:

* melon-vodka
* machiato
* Merlot jam
* champagne cream with dark chocolate
* tiramisu
* cream and pomegranate
* halva with dark chocolate and fine shreds of halva
* Bazooka bubble gum
* plum and chili
* falafel and tahini
* fried eggplant with egg
* Molecular jelly (edible, but I'm not sure what that means)
* goose liver
* shrimp and blueberry jam

Whew. When it comes to some of the new flavors, things may have gone slightly out of control. Nothing beats the memory of the classic jelly sufganiyot. It will forever stay in our hearts, and thighs. Happy Hanukkah!

-- Vered Guttman

By The Food Section  |  December 11, 2009; 1:00 PM ET
 | Tags: Hanukkah, Vered Guttman  
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