Latkes made from the heart

“You need to make food with your heart,” Beber Azran said. “If not, it’s just awful.” 

 ... AND ATE latkes (photo credit: slgckgc/Unsplash)
... AND ATE latkes
(photo credit: slgckgc/Unsplash)

There are dozens of bakeries, cafés and grocery stores around Jerusalem that sell sufganiyot, but it’s hard to get a decent latke.

To solve that problem, last year, four children sat around the table grating potatoes, sweet potatoes and beets for hours on the eve of Hanukkah. In what was far from a Hanukkah miracle, it took almost eight days to get the last of the red stains from the beets off their hands.

This year, instead of putting your kids to work, try Beber’s Place, a very modest kiosk on Agron Street between Supersol and Independence Park downtown. 

Beber Azran, an elderly immigrant from Morocco, sells latkes all year, but especially during Hanukkah. (If only the bakeries would sell sufganiyot all year, we wouldn’t have to eagerly wait each year for the day after Simchat Torah.)

The latkes are made with plenty of potatoes, as well as onions, carrots, green onions, parsley, eggs, bread crumbs, salt, pepper, and of course, they wouldn’t be special for Hanukkah without oil. They come out yellow and browned, and like the traditional Hanukkah song goes, are much better served hot.

 BAKED POTATO latkes. (credit: HENNY SHOR) BAKED POTATO latkes. (credit: HENNY SHOR)

Azran said people come all the way from Tel Aviv to sample his latkes. Sometimes people make a point of stopping by on their way to or from the Old City down the road. 

He lamented that the tourists, who were among his top clientele from neighboring hotels, have not yet returned, since the coronavirus forced them away. 

The surprisingly large latkes cost only NIS 12, and he would bring the price down to NIS 10 if you buy a lot. Be prepared with cash, because he does not take credit cards. 

The kosher kiosk is open during the day Sunday to Thursday, and is closed on Fridays and Shabbat.

The latkes can be eaten in a pita or on a baguette. Beber does not have applesauce, which can be purchased at Supersol next door. 

But the latkes are best eaten as street food, on their own in a small paper bag to protect your hands from the oil. There are a few tables outside the kiosk, and when he is not too busy, Beber comes to the tables and tells stories.

He even exclusively revealed the secret of the taste of his latkes for the readers of In Jerusalem:

“You need to make food with your heart,” he said. “If not, it’s just awful.” 

Beber’s Place is located at 3 Agron St. Larger orders of latkes should be ordered a day in advance by calling, or WhatsApp to 052-842-8479.