Saturday, February 15, 2014

A Recipe for Indian Fry Bread Tacos

Today, for the first time, I tried an Indian fry bread taco.

It is a food with an interesting history.

Indian fry bread is traditional to the Navajo, and comes with a story of great pain and suffering.

The Navajo lived from the earth as their ancestors had for hundreds of years. They also raised livestock to feed their family. The Navajo homeland was bordered by the four sacred mountains, from northeastern Arizona, western New Mexico, southern Utah and southern Colorado.

The Navajo traded with the Spanish, Mexican, Pueblos, Apache, Comanche, and even the early American pioneers. Around 1846, large numbers of pioneers moved into the area and the cavalry came with them. This is when troubles began. After many battles and skrimishes with the Navajo, in September 1863, Kit Carson was dispatched into Navajo land to retrieve a surrender. When no Navajo came to meet with him, he ordered the burning of the land. Attempts were made to starve out the Navajo and many were captured. Hundreds starved on the 300 mile walk to prision and more would die later in the crowded conditions. Navajo were eventually placed with the Apache, often under very difficult living conditions. Camps were meant for 4,000 to 5,000 people often contained over 9,000 people and supplies were meager. The government supplied lard, flour, salt, sugar, baking powder or yeast, and powdered milk for food.

Fry bread came from these few foods provided during the 4 years of captivity. Since that time, it has become common food at most all PowWows of numerous tribes. Here is the basic recipe:


1 cup unbleached white flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon powdered milk
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup water
Vegetable oil for frying


Sift the flour, salt, powdered milk, and baking powder into a large bowl. Pour the water over the flour mixture all at once and stir the dough with a fork until it starts to form one big clump.

Flour your hands well. Using your hands, begin to mix the dough, trying to get all the flour into the mixture to form a ball. Mix well but do not knead. Kneading it will make the fry bread heavy when cooked. The inside of the dough ball should still be sticky after it is formed, while the outside will be well floured.

Cut the dough into four (4) pieces. Using your floured hands, shape, stretch, pat, and form a disk of about 5 to 7 inches in diameter. Don’t worry about it being round.

Put about 1 inch of vegetable oil in a deep heavy pot or cast iron skillet, and heat to about 350 degrees F. You can check if you oil is hot enough by either dropping a small piece of dough in the hot oil and seeing if it begins to fry, or by dipping the end of a wooden spoon in and seeing if that bubbles.

Take the formed dough and gently place it into the oil, being careful not to splatter the hot oil. Press down on the dough as it fries so the top is submersed into the hot oil. Fry until brown, and then flip to fry the other side. Each side will take approximately 3 to 4 minutes to cook. Place the cooked fry bread on a paper towel to absorb excess oil.

The fry bread can be kept warm in a 200 degree F. oven for up to 1 hour. They refrigerate well and can be reheated in a 350 degree F. oven for 10 to 15 minutes before serving.

There are several different ways to eat and serve Indian fry bread.:
  1. Eat them as they come out of the fryer
  2. Mix softened butter and honey together and spread it on top
  3. Sprinkle with a cinnamon sugar mixture
  4. Sift powdered sugar on top

Make an Indian taco (that is what I had) by stacking with your favorite taco ingredients

1 pound lean ground meat (beef, lamb, venison or pork) - leave out for vetetarian
1 medium onion, diced
4 cooked fry breads
1 small head iceberg lettuce, shredded
3 tomatoes, diced
2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
1 (3-ounce) can diced green chilis drained
sour cream and salsa(optional)

In a large frying pan over medium-high heat, brown ground meat and onions until cooked; remove from heat.
Place fry bread on separate plates. Layer ground meat, lettuce, tomatoes, Cheddar cheese, and green chiles onto top of each fry bread. serve with sour cream and salsa, if desired, and either roll up or serve open-faced with a fork.

Makes 4 servings.


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  1. While we were staying in Bluff, Utah last May, we had Indian Fry Bread Pizza. It was a amazing stuff. Love that fry bread!

  2. Can't wait to try the recipe. We enjoyed meeting you and Arch last night on the Moonlight Hike. Maybe we will meet again to view Palm Canyon soon! If the weather gets cooler.

    1. We are looking forward to hiking Palm Canyon with a couple of pairs of "experienced" eyes.


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