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A greasy, tacky, sugary oddball, injected with smooth, gummy red jam that hasn’t seen a single berry in its life: This could easily be shortlisted for the worst of Jewish foods, quite possibly topping the list (though for that we have gefilte fish).

In reality, a sufganiyah can be as good or as bad as the quality of storytelling of the Hanukkah tale: a compelling plot of lights and splendor or a dubious account of a highly improbable episode. A good sufganyiah, when you come across it, is a magnificent miracle of billowy lightness accentuated by a creamy or fruity filling. Together, they form a truly irresistible package—against all odds!

Yotam Ottolenghi is the author of Sweet: Desserts from London’s Ottolenghi.

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