The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Traditional Navajo Fry Bread

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aptk's picture
aptk

Traditional Navajo Fry Bread

Warning: This post may contain information and language which may be opinionated, sarcastic, or darkly humorous. It is not intended to offend, it is intended to portray my own personal way of looking at and doing things.

I did my research for this one, and yes, I did have a recipe, although as it turned out, it was a recipe that I already had, ingredient for ingredient, amount for amount. Both are traditional fried breads, the difference occurs with how the dough is prepared prior to being fried.

In searching for my recipe, I came across one that included a history of how it came to be. And it turns out that is from a location very near where I was raised in central-eastern New Mexico.

In the 1860's, the army at Ft. Sumner, New Mexico was charged with the internment of both Navajo and Apache Native Americans. The army provided their prisoners with provisions (rations) which included ground wheat flour and baking powder, which were unknown ingredients to the prisoners. The story goes that the army wives got together and taught the prisoners to make this bread. This bread is the exact same recipe as the Mexican sopapilla. In the Native version, the dough is divided into balls, then each ball is shaped by hand into a thin round and then deep fried. In the Mexican version, the dough is rolled flat, then cut into squares or triangles and deep fried. Either way, it's delicious.

The Navajo version of the recipe mentions that coltsfoot ash could be added to impart a 'salty' taste, however, salt was readily available due to the nearby salt lakes located near present day Willard, New Mexico. I had never heard of using the coltsfoot ash, but since it grows here in the area where I live now, I will make a point to harvest some this upcoming season.

I stayed true to the ingredients and even used actual lard, which I tend to always have on hand for authenticity in my other southwest cuisine recipes. This is not however, a recipe I would recommend, many of the ingredients and terms are in the Navajo language and if you're unfamiliar with Navajo it could be difficult to understand.

If you would like to make this bread, Google it, there are several recipes and videos available on the web which will work just as well. Bake on.

Comments

Kollin's picture
Kollin

Is there any chance for posting the recipe and the method.... PLEASE!

aptk's picture
aptk

There's a recipe here: 

http://navajofrybread.com/fry-bread-recipe/

And a video of how to shape it here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6fc1zK58TYU

The secret is lard. Actual lard. If you have trouble finding it, go to the Mexican row in your store and look for Manteca.

Kollin's picture
Kollin

Thank you! ;)

Skibum's picture
Skibum

I can't get Blue Bird flour here in Canada. What is the gluten content of the BB? I am wondering if I should sub AP or strong bread flour so any suggestion would be appreciated. They look really good! TIA, Brian