Last night was the 7th night of Chanukkah and tonight is the last night. Chanukkah is my favorite holiday, though it is a bit strange celebrating a holiday that I’ve always associated with cold weather on a tropical island. This year, we put a number of other twists on “Shikitari” (that’s “tradition” to those of you who don’t speak Japanese):

First, We played a new version of Driedel. Tradition would have it that during the time of Antiochus‘ oppression of the Jews, those who wanted to study Torah (an illegal activity) would conceal their activity by playing gambling games with a top (a common and legal activity) whenever an official or inspector was within sight. The new version of driedel is quite true to this tradition, as indicated by its name “No Limit Texas Driedel”. I think Nick was quite relieved that he can now actually really enjoy playing driedel (rather than just indulging me once a year).

Of course, celebrating Chanukkah without latkes (fried potato pancakes) would be blasphemous. I have to admit, though, that I find latkes a bit bland (hence the need for lots of sour-cream and applesauce!). So, I decided to jazz my latkes up a bit by adding some Indian spices. Into a traditional latke recipe, I added half a teaspoon each of nigella seeds, fennel seeds, cumin seeds, a teaspoon of mustard seeds, some cayenne pepper and a few crumbled curry leaves (all quickly tempered in some ghee). Oh boy! Tradition with a twist!

And speaking of tradition (and twists), how about a Japanese “Tevye”?: