Tuesday, December 22, 2009

From the Russian Federation with love (just in time for Christmas): Draniki

We have reached our final destination — the Russian Federation, where the World Food Programme runs programs that help to feed thousands of Chechnyans displaced by war.

This recipe for potato pancakes, unlike the others in this series, is not particularly exotic. In fact, if you just celebrated Hanukkah, you may have actually experienced an overabundance of the classic latkes.

Though this recipe may seem simple,* there are some key tips to note in order to replicate the authentic flavour and texture. Here is the adapted recipe (with some extra tips thrown in):



1/2 lb of potatoes
1/2 a large onion
2 small eggs
1/4 cup flour
Salt and pepper to taste
Sunflower oil for frying


Peel and grate the potato and the onion into a large mixing bowl.[1]

Add the other ingredients and mix thoroughly. If the resulting mass is very wet, squeeze down the mixture with a masher and pour off the extra liquid.[2]

Heat the oil in a heavy frying pan.[3] When the oil is hot but not smoking, add about 1/4 cup the mixture and pat it down to ½ cm thickness, rounding the edges off with a spatula to form a pancake. Add more until the pan is full.

The draniki need to fry for 3-5 min on each side. To achieve a good colour, start them hot, but then turn them down to cook through. They should be crispy and golden on the outside, but soft in the middle, and the potato should be cooked through.

Notes: 1. Don’t use the coarsest side of your grater for this, or the potato will not soften properly. You want fine strands of potato which will mesh together during cooking. 2. As the mixture sits, water will leach out of the potatoes, making the batter wetter. So, it may be necessary to drin off the excess liquid in between frying the batches. 3. Why sunflower oil? Draniki are actually a version of a popular Ukrainian dish, deruni, and to get the authentic flavour, other oils just won’t do.

Serve with sour cream or apple sauce.

Best of the Holiday season! And, fill the red cup for those less fortunate.


*Grating potato and onion — never "simple."

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