Mostly about food, this blog is just a place for me to throw things that are of interest to me. I appreciate you taking the time to stop by an look around. This represents just some of the stops on the various pathways that this amateur home cook finds himself.

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Monday, December 1, 2008

Navajo Frybread

Indian fry bread is tradition to the Navajo, and comes with a story of great pain and suffering. Though the tradition of fry bread is common among many Southwestern Tribes, it is the Navajo who developed this recipe. After forcing nearly 10,000 Navajo from the reservation on "The Long Walk", they were interred with the Mescalero Apache. The government supplies of lard, flour, salt, sugar, baking powder or yeast, and powdered milk were meager and often rancid. This was supplanted with any game that could be taken. Creating what they could from adversity, fry bread came from these few foods that were provided during the 4 years of captivity. Since that time, it has become common food at most all PowWows of numerous tribes and has truly become a pan-Indian food that most all tribes now enjoy. Also provides the basis for Navajo Tacos.

1 cup unbleached flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoon powdered milk

2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup water, more as needed

Vegetable oil for frying

Sift together 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. Using your hands, begin to mix the dough, trying to get all the flour into the mixture to form a ball.

NOTE: You want to mix this well, but you do NOT want to knead it. Kneading it will make for a heavy frybread 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 two to four pieces, depending on the size frybreads you want to make. Using your floured hands, shape, stretch, pat, and form a disk of about 1/4" inches thick. Don’t worry about it being round. It isn't a wheel, and it won't be in one piece long... Heat the vegetable oil to about 350 degrees F.

NOTE: You can check 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. Your oil should be about 1-inch deep in a large cast-iron skillet or other large fryer.

Take the formed dough and put a hole in the center about the size of your index finger. This has a spiritual significance, but the reason to do it is that it evens out the oil heat and prevents the frybread from bubbling up in the center.

Now 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 light golden brown, and then flip to fry the other side. Each side will take about 3 to 4 minutes.

Indian 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.

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