Chosen Eats: Janna Gur’s Ijeh B’lahmeh (Herb and Meat Latkes)A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of attending a cooking demo with Janna Gur, who was in Boston promoting her new cookbook, “Jewish Soul Food.” At the intimate demo, sponsored by the New Center for Arts & Culture, Gur prepared these thick latkes, which are packed with herbs and served at many roadside eateries and falafel spots in Syria and Israel. In her book, Gur writes that these are a wonderful alternative to the traditional Hanukkah latke because they can be made in advance and served at room temperature with all the fixings.

Ijeh B’lahmeh (Herb and Meat Latkes)
From “Jewish Soul Food” by Janna Gur

Makes 15 to 20 pancakes

To make these vegetarian, simply skip the meat and increase the amount of matzah meal or bread crumbs to 5 tablespoons.

4 eggs
1 large onion, roughly chopped
About 2 tablespoons matzah meal or bread crumbs
1 bunch fresh parsley
1 bunch fresh cilantro
½ bunch fresh mint
3 to 4 scallions (white and green parts)
10 ounces ground beef, or a lamb and beef mixture
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 to 3 tablespoons pine nuts (optional)
Vegetable oil for frying

Accompaniments for Serving
Pita, bread rolls or ciabatta
Olive oil
Slices of red onion
Chopped fresh herbs, such as parsley or cilantro
Tomato slices
Tahini spread (see below)

Tahini Spread
½ cup tahini
Juice from ½ lemon
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Ice-cold water

1. Prepare the pancakes: Put eggs, onion, matzah meal or bread crumbs, parsley, cilantro, mint and scallion in food processor. Pulse until herbs are chopped. Transfer to bowl.

2. Add ground beef, salt, pepper and pine nuts (if using) and mix thoroughly.

3. For optional tahini spread: In small bowl, combine tahini, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Using whisk, gradually stir in ice-cold water. Don’t be alarmed when mixture becomes lumpy and thick; keep adding water and whisking until mixture turns smooth and creamy and the color changes from dark beige to ivory. Set aside.

4. Heat a little bit of vegetable oil in a large nonstick frying pan. With a large spoon, ladle in pancakes 3 inches wide and fry over medium heat for 3 to 4 minutes on each side, until deep golden. Be careful not to crowd the pan (work in batches). Remove to paper towels to drain.

5. To serve: If desired, brush pita with olive oil and toast in hot pan or oven. Arrange pancakes on bread (it will absorb the flavorful juices) and top with red onion, herbs, tomato and tahini spread. If not serving at once, store pancakes in the refrigerator—they are delicious cold or at room temperature in a sandwich or as a light snack.