Deep-fried. Jelly-filled. Sugar-topped.
Sufganiyot (pronounced “Sof-gen-yoat”) are Israeli jelly doughnuts eaten during The Festival of Lights, which starts Saturday and goes until Jan. 1. They’re deep-fried, filled with jelly or some other custard, and best of all, crowned with powdered sugar.
“The tradition is a fried doughnut, which has to do with Hanukkah,” said Saul Markovic, co-owner of Murray Avenue Kosher, 1916 Murray Ave., a kosher food store that’s been around for nearly 60 years (although under a few different names). “Our doughnuts are more baked than fried. But really, any jelly doughnut will do.”
In fact, without an in-house bakery, Murray Avenue Kosher gets its Sufganiyot from outside bakeries like Unger’s Kosher Market and Bakery in Cleveland; Beigel’s Bakery in Brooklyn, N.Y.; and Royal Donuts also in Brooklyn, N.Y.
Partaking in foods covered in oil isn’t just a culinary luxury for the taste buds, it represents the miracle of the oil, when one day’s supply was able to light a menorah for eight days.
But when it comes to Markovic’s favorite holiday food, it isn’t the sweet jelly doughnut treat that does the trick.
“Potato latkes. We make them right here at Murray Avenue Kosher,” he said.
Squirrel Hill has been a Pittsburgh neighborhood immersed in Jewish culture as far back as the 1920s, when Eastern European residents moved to this area and started having families, per the Squirrel Hill Historical Society. Soon, kosher shops, restaurants, and other businesses popped up in the community.
The neighborhood’s Giant Eagle includes kosher bakery creations, as does Costco at the Waterfront in Homestead. In 2009, Squirrel Hill’s Dunkin’ Donuts became the first national chain in the city to become kosher, offering a menu that adheres to Jewish dietary laws and, yes, includes Sufganiyot.