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  • Tereza Novakova

Traditional Czech potato hashbrowns

Call them hashbrowns, pancakes or galettes, whatever you like. In Czech, we call them Bramboráky. They can also have different regional names such as Cmunda or Sejkory. And that's how my grams used to call them. Sejkory. I believe it's actually one of the first recipes that I ever learned and I learned it from her. Just writing this recipe here, I am tearing up as I just wish I could eat hers again. I miss her to the point that it's not even possible to put in words. I believe that this veganized version would still be appreciated by her and that she would enjoy eating it with me. And I hope that sharing this recipe will bring a bit of me and her to your kitchens too.

To be honest, there's not much to veganize about this recipe, I just simply removed the eggs from the original recipe as it still all holds together and cooks pretty well. This is one of the few Czech vegetarian dishes but there indeed are families who would cut pieces of bacon in it (feel free to add tiny bits of vegan bacon if you wish!) but in my family, we would just keep it nice and simple. Especially, as there's this tradition that if you don't eat meat on the 24th December, you will see a golden pig in the evening. Usually the golden pig would be just my dad doing light reflects with his watch on the wall and saying these are the reflects of the golden pig passing by.

Silly, how actually the whole meat eating culture makes it such a challenge to give up meat for one day, right? Anyways, so in my family, to stick to the tradition and to see the golden pig, my grandma would prepare these for us for lunch. Usually on the 24th my sisters and I would be staying at her place so our mom and dad could get the home ready for the arrival of baby Jesus. Yes, we don't have Santa, for us, it's the baby Jesus delivering presents. Don't ask me how a baby could do all of that, I have no idea haha :) . Also, obviously, my parents weren't preparing the house for the arrival of baby Jesus, they spent the time decorating and wrapping the presents but I guess that you figured that out, right?

So, once you make these, in the full vegan version, I am sure you will be seeing golden happy freed pigs all around the whole year long. Also, this recipe is not a rocket science. It's super easy and rather fast to make. Also, it's one of those recipes when you can't quite have the recipe. I don't measure, I just go by feeling but I measured the last ones I made so I could share it with you. But depending on the potatoes that you used, you might need to use a spoon less (or more) of flour so do it one by one and see how you feel the consistency. Just feel free to play around with all of it - more or less garlic or marjoram... just make it yours and bring it as a tradition from my family to yours.

You will need:

  • 4 big potatoes

  • 3 cloves of garlic

  • 2 tbsp dried Marjoram

  • 4 tbsp flour

  • salt, pepper

  • vegetable oil

Marjoram is a type of oregano. I never noticed it being used in anglo or franco cuisines that I am familiar with but it is widely used in slavic cuisines. If you really want to go for the traditional recipe, most of Polish shops do have it, the name would be "Majoranek". If you live in the middle of nowhere and don't have access to any Czech or Polish or Central/Eastern European shop, dried Oregano would do too but it's not quite the same.

First, grate your potatoes. I usually like grating them on the second size of the grater. Not the huge one but not the tiniest that would mash the potatoes. If they are nice and young, I don't even peel them. Once grated, you will see how much liquid they have the bowl. When I used to do it vegetarian and put eggs in there, I would squeeze it all out but since we are making this vegan, squeeze the most of the liquid out but make sure that it's still quite moist (damn, I hate the word moist, it just sounds wrong haha). You need the moisture for the flour that you put in to stick and make a dough-like consistency there. Add the rest of the ingredients - pressed garlic, marjoram, flour, salt and pepper. Be generous with the salt, potatoes require a lot of it (at least 2 tbsp might be needed). I would usually make the first hashbrown and taste it and often add some more salt.

As all is well mixed, heat your frying pan to medium high heat and add a generous amount of oil. The hashbrowns should almost swim in it so let's say half an inch. Spoon the hasbrown "dough" to the oil, spred it so it makes a nice flat pancake. Fry the hashbrowns from both sides and once all nice and golden, put them on a paper kitchen towel that would soak in the excess oil.

You can eat them just like that or they can be a side to another dish. You can add a salad to feel better and healthier and some vegan sour cream. When it came to eating it at gram's place, we would just have them like that with a cup of tea. I don't know why, I never have tea for lunch but Sejkory were always with a cup of tea.

DISCLOSURE: as you use 3 cloves of garlic here, don't plan any date on that day, your breath would kill even the famous Dracula.

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