Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Fry Bread and Indigenous People Tacos

Yeah, the title is a poke at political correctness. Until the Indian Country News changes its name, I'm not going to bother insisting on being called a Native American or indigenous person or first person or whatever. Every once in awhile another committee comes along, pushing to change the names of local landmarks like Squaw Flat. Which I'm okay with, as long as they don't mess with Chief  Mountain:

But back to the subject at hand: Fry Bread and Indian Tacos. It has come to my attention that some of you have never had the pleasure of these culinary delights. So look and learn.

Fry Bread is a hunk of fried bread dough. Go figure, huh? Any bread dough will do, although for the purpose of Indian Tacos you may not want to use sweet dough. Yes, you non-baking types can even use frozen bread dough from the grocery store (I'm looking at you, CPosey). Let it thaw and rise first. Whack off a chunk of dough about the size of a tennis ball. Stretch it out to about an inch thick and poke your finger through the center to make a small hole. Then fry it in hot oil. (No, I don't know how hot. Somewhere between smoking and the dough just sitting in there like a big pale lump. Or you could be nitpicky and get out a cookbook and see how hot the oil is supposed to be to fry donuts.)

I also don't know exactly where Fry Bread came from, although I believe it is a variation on the traditional Indian bannack bread. A much improved version in my opinion, since in the old days Indians didn't have yeast or any other kind of leavening agents, so real bannack bread is has all the tenderness and flavor of baked wallpaper paste.

As for Indian Tacos, who knows, but the first indigenous type to put chili on a piece of fry bread and top it with lettuce and sour cream and cheese and tomatoes and olives and salsa deserves a place in the Indian Hall of Fame, if there is such a thing.

So plunk your fry bread on a plate. Top it with a generous serving of your favorite chili. Go wild with the toppings. Enjoy.

Then fry up one more piece of bread, because no meal of Indian Tacos is complete unless you finish it off with fry bread drenched in melted butter, then drizzled with syrup, spread with huckleberry jam, or sprinkled with cinnamon sugar. Or in our case, dunked in honey provided by the Bee Man, who sets up his hives alongside our alfalfa field every summer.

Hope you enjoy yours as much as I'm going to enjoy mine, as I sit here gazing out my window, across Indigenous Woman Flat at what had better remain Chief Mountain.


Anonymous said...

GOD! I'm starving.

We used to make "doughnuts" but taking canned biscuit dough, stretching it, poking a hole with a finger and deep frying it. then sprinkle powered sugar or a sugar glaze over them. YUM.

Can't even beging to imagine the calories. LOL

MitMoi said...

Fry bread and Navajo tacos were the BEST parts about Indian Rodeos and Pow-wows. Not so much of that out here in the land of the pilgrim.

Leona said...

I love fry bread :D One of the best things I've learned about since marrying my husband!

My daughter used to be treasurer of the Indian club (we are so unpolitically correct in our home of many colors LOL I have a half black half mexican brother, I married an Indian, was adopted into an Irish family and I'm mostly german from my natural family and My ex was a "mutt" so my kids are an interesting mix. That's what the school called it - The Indian Club - and she learned lots of things and made some lifelong friends.

Hardygirl said...

Holy cow!! This looks great and I'm SICK of turkey leftovers!!


Susan at Stony River said...

Boy, have you brought back memories -- my mother used to make the most wonderful fry bread! It was wonderful even left over and gone cold, but we almost never had left overs; it was too good. My father liked a fried egg and salt on his; I liked syrup and powdered sugar. Oh yum.

Anonymous said...

I have been "lurking" but you are so funny I just have to "come out". Found you thru Carol at rimrockenglishsheperds. I returned home to the Wind River Reservation area in WY (no INDIAN blood in me though my grandparents homesteaded here almost 100 yrs. ago) and lived in Rapid City for 13 yrs. before that - enjoy your SD references. Where I worked in RC Fry bread and Indian tacos were served to the kids for lunch - and also at the local pow-wows...way good. Thanks for the laughs...Marcia in WY

Grégoire said...

do you call that mountain old chief or big chief or just chief, on your side of the border?

a great many of my people are from cardston, which is not in montana, but i grew up seeing it from there.

~The South Dakota Cowgirl~ said...

I call that bread, Devil Bread. And I've got Zach's mom, aka Granny, calling it that too. I love it. Indian Tacos are the bomb!

Kari Lynn Dell said...

Marcia: Thanks so much, it's good to know that someone besides me thinks I'm funny. I've been down in the Wind River country once or twice. Not hard to figure out how it got its name!

Gregoire: We just call it Chief Mountain. Amazing how different it looks from different angles, isn't it? So much broader from Cardston, and nothing but a slender spike when you see it from Browning. We're just west of Del Bonita, and of course we think our view is the best ;).

Sandra Cormier said...

I often made frying pan bannock for my kids when we were out of bread or needed a quick pizza base, but I never thought of deep frying them! Great idea!

Kari Lynn Dell said...


Just wait. It's heaven. Also awesome with butter and cinnamon sugar.