Fry Bread, Indian tacos, and Navajo tacos are all names for the traditional bread of Indigenous Americans. Handed down orally from generation to generation, each tribe has its own versions and add different sweet or savory toppings. Author Sherman Alexie’s 1993 “The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fist Fight in Heaven” captures the importance of fry bread and the oral storytelling that links all native tribes together. In a scene from the movie version of the book called Smoke Signals, Thomas Builds-The-Fire tells a story of how the mother trying to feed 50 people with only 25 pieces of her famous fry bread. Her solution to making sure everyone in the community got a piece of fry bread was simple. Tear them all in half.
Navajo Fry Bread
- Large cast iron skillet
- Baking tray lined with paper towels.
- 3¼ cups All-purpose flour, divided
- 1 packet Active dry yeast
- 1½ tsp Sugar
- ½ tsp Salt
- 1½ cups Warm water
- 2 tbsp Butter, melted
- 2 cups Oil, for frying
- Prepare Dough – Turn on oven light. Whisk flour, yeast, sugar, and ½ tsp salt together in a large bowl. Whisk water and melted butter together in another bowl. Pour water bowl into flour bowl and stir until it becomes a slightly sticky and elastic ball. Cover bowl in plastic wrap and then a kitchen towel. Leave in a warmed oven to double in volume, about 1 hour.
- Shape Breads – Heat oil over medium-high heat. Punch down dough and transfer to a lightly floured surface. If too sticky, knead in a little flour. Shape into semi-equal balls. Press each ball into 8-inch round disks.
- When oil hits 375°F (190°C), slip each bread disk into the skillet and fry until both sides are golden brown, about 2 minutes per side. Remove to a paper towel-lined baking sheet. Repeat with remaining rounds. Serve.
- Fry bread doesn’t freeze well.
- If dough seems too dry, add warm water 1 tbsp at a time.