the seventh night of hanukkah is a special night. it actually has a name and is called (c)hag ha'banot [חג הבנות], or loosely translated, festival of the daughters. it commemorates the heroism of judith [יהודית], the jewish woman who killed the enemy, the assyrian general holofernes, and helped in saving the jewish people after the destruction of their holy temple, central to judaism.
judith's importance as a heroine has been featured on various menoras of antiquity [medieval] and is a popular named given to jewish girls to this day. this is the basis for the evening of the seventh candle in countries of north africa such as morocco, tunisia and algeria. it is also the evening of two important events: the slaying of holofernes and the new moon of the month of tevet [טבת] or as it is called in hebrew, rosh (c)hodesh [ראש חודש]. rosh (c)hodesh is also significant as it is usually celebrated by women.
this celebration on the seventh night is primarily observed by women, and with much enjoyment. dancing and feasting are high on the list. dairy foods are eaten and to drink, is milk and/or buttermilk. in particular, a dish of sweetened couscous either very simply made, as seen below, or more elaborately prepared with a variety of sweet dried fruit. i seem to have some remote memory of salty feta filled burekas being served near the last day of hanukkah which is probably related to the salty cheese in the story of how judith made holofernes very thirsty forcing him to drink copious amounts of wine and eventually lead to his demise once well-inebriated.
to read more about this celebration, read the ritualwell article. of note is that women can celebrate this at home. the authors explains the how and why.
i will add here that i have seen this being noted as a celebration which takes place on the occasion of the 6th candle. rosh (c)hodesh this month takes place over two days.
here are two recipes for you to try (and the burekas 0ne from the link above).
serves 6 (dairy)
According to The Book of Jewish Food, sweet couscous is a festive Jewish dish in North Africa. In Morocco, it was served at Hanukkah in bowls with wooden spoons. It is the custom to serve cold milk or buttermilk with it, in little tea glasses.
1 cup couscous
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon unsalted butter or margarine
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon confectioner's sugar, or to taste
1/3 cup raisins, soaked in warm water for a few minutes
Prepare the couscous: Place 1 cup of couscous, salt, margarine and 1 cup of boiling water in a large bowl; stir to mix, cover the bowl with a plate and allow it to sit for 10-15 minutes. At this point, some recipes call for occasional stirring with a fork to fluff it while it is steaming; others call for not stirring until it is fully steamed. If the couscous is still crunchy, add 1/4 cup more of boiling water, cover and let sit another 5 minutes. Then stir it to fluff and separate the grains of couscous.
Claudia Roden offers serving ideas:
serve this shaped as a cone, sprinkled with lines of cinnamon and confectionery sugar down the sides, and raisins if you wish; with a mixture of toasted pine nuts, chopped almonds and pistachios; with dates and chopped almonds on top.
recipe excerpted from jewz.com
ricotta latkes — לביבות גבינת ריקוטה
a light dairy latke which cookbook author gloria kaufer-greene says predates potato latkes. these, therefore, must be quite old. potatoes only came to ashkenazi jews in recent history from south america.
you can cut the recipe in half and use a smaller container of ricotta if it is only for a few people. a full recipe yields about 30 - 2 inch (small) latkes as per the author though i get more than that. they are very light and one can easily consume many. they are very, very good.
one 15 or 16 oz container ricotta
6 tbsp AP flour
2 tbsp butter, melted
1 or 2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 - 2 pkgs vanilla sugar [my addition]
mix all together in a blender or food processor and blend until creamy. the batter will be like a thinner than regular cheesecake one.
fry on medium heat until golden brown in butter. they will puff up a bit but not stay that way. take care when flipping them as they are fragile. i would not recommend crowding the pan.
serve with conserves, jam and/or sour cream.