Have you tried the original Navajo People’s Fried Bread Recipe? The dish is loved all over the United States, but its origins come from the Native American group that dates back generations of ancestry. Suppose you’ve never had them, need to search your city for a place that sells them. Navajo Fried Bread is surprisingly easy to make at home.
The dish is sometimes referred to as Native American bread because recipes may vary by region and tribe. Other tribes prepare them with traditional cornmeal, while more modern recipes use ordinary ancient flour. Some recipes add shortening, lard, butter, or different types of fat.
History of fried bread
Over a hundred years ago, fried bread was created when the United States government forced the Native American colonies living in Arizona to migrate 300 miles. This became known as the Long Walk, and its purpose was to move the natives to New Mexico, where their traditional staple vegetables and beans cannot grow because of dry land.
The government gave them canned food and dry goods to prevent starvation among the migrant group, including flour, processed sugar and lard. This is where fried bread was born into the world – a recipe that originated in the migration history of Native American tribes. The dish is delicious and symbolic of a specific culture in America that some natives even describe as part of their national identity.
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Fried bread recipe from scratch
As mentioned earlier, making fried bread isn’t too complicated once you have the right ingredients. However, some Native Americans say that the secret to good fried bread lies as much in the kneading and preparation as in the quality of the ingredients used. For this recipe, you will only need a few tips that are easily found in stores and more or less 30 minutes before it is ready to be served.
- 3 cups vegetable oil or shortening (enough for an inch depth, for frying)
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- A spoon and ½ teaspoon of baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon of salt to taste
- ½ cup of milk (can be whole, skimmed or any variation of your preference)
- Prepare a 10-inch cast iron skillet or heavy-bottomed saucepan and preheat the oil to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- You can measure the heat of the oil more or less by sticking a wooden spatula in the hot oil. When bubbles appear around the handle of the spatula, it is reasonably ready for cooking.
- In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Mix well to combine.
- Add the milk and mix until the dough is held together.
- Knead on a lightly floured surface until the dough is smooth and supple. Do not knead too much, otherwise the dough may harden. Let stand for about 15 to 20 minutes.
- Divide the dough into four even pieces and shape each into a ball.
- Using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll each ball of dough into circles about ¼ to ½ inch thick. Make a depression in the center of each round of dough because it will swell when fried.
- Gently slide one or two pieces of flat dough over your hot oil. Fry over medium to high heat for 2-3 minutes on one side and flip when it takes on a nice light golden brown color.
- Remove from heat and place on plates with paper towels to drain off excess oil.
Service style and size
Fried bread is supposed to taste salty, but you can also choose to sweeten it a bit by adding your favorite toppings. While still very hot, sprinkle the fried bread lightly with powdered sugar, cinnamon or frost it with honey or maple syrup.
If you want to make a single serving, try making the bread in a taco salad base and garnish with tasty toppings. This dish is popularly known as Navajo tacos or American Indian tacos. Cut the fried bread into quarters and top with ground beef, sour cream, cheese, sliced tomatoes, cilantro and other toppings and sauces.
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Tips for making fried bread
You might have tried making fried bread before, but it didn’t turn out the way you expected. There are several tips you can follow and see if they improve your homemade recipe. When kneading the dough, make sure your hands and the surface are well floured to prevent the dough from sticking all over.
You can also try to adjust the thickness of your dough according to the use for which you intend it. When making tacos, make them thinner, but if serving them as is, make them a little thicker for a fuller bite. You can use your favorite type of oil like canola, vegetable, palm, lard or other fat for frying. Finally, adjust the proportion of your ingredients and make sure you don’t add too much or too little.
How long can you keep fried bread?
Fried bread has a surprisingly long shelf life when frozen, but it’s always best to eat it when it’s freshly made and fried. Leftovers can be left at room temperature for about 2 to 3 days in a plastic or loose container. To reheat the bread, put it in the oven as you would regular toast.
Frozen fried bread can last up to three months if stored properly. After the bread has cooled, pat it with paper towels to remove excess oil, then wrap it tightly in plastic or waxed paper, then place it in a freezer bag. You can even freeze the uncooked dough. That way you can thaw it anytime you want and fry new amounts of fried bread.
Why is my fried bread hard?
So you’ve followed the recipe all the way, but your end product is still fried bread with hard pieces. This could be due to over mixing of the dough or over mixing of the ingredients. Another problem could be the oil that has not heated up enough for frying, resulting in the bread frying for far too long.
The baking powder in this recipe will give the bread its soft, chewy texture and keep it moist. In other recipes, yeast or other sourdoughs are used to rise the bread to rise. Your recipe may also lack baking powder. Try a combination of these tips and see if your fried bread is still hard after baking.
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Once you’ve learned how to make Navajo Fried Bread, you instantly have another quick and easy snack to make in your cookbook. There are so many ways to enjoy this dish, and the best thing is that it all depends on how you want to serve them. If you’re feeling extra, you can even eat them with your favorite soft serve ice cream or yogurt.
It is a dish that is both light and fulfilling. You can also replace it with other carbohydrates like rice and white bread. Eat it with meat or stew and chili, enjoy it anytime at home or share it with family and friends.
Navajo fried bread might sound simple, but it’s also a culture-related dish. Along with its history, fried bread is not only a food, but it is also a testament to the history of the native American tribes of the country.