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.
Indigenous American Fry Bread
- Large cast iron skillet
- Baking tray lined with paper towels.
- 3¼ cups All-purpose flour, divided
- 1 packet Active dry yeast (.25 ounce)
- 1½ tsp Sugar
- 1½ cups Warm water
- 2 tbsp Butter, melted
- 2 cups Oil, for frying
- Prepare Dough – Turn oven light. Whisk 3 cups 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 and stir until it becomes a slightly sticky and elastic ball. Cover bowl in plastic wrap and then a kitchen towel. Leave in a warm 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 10 semi-equal balls. Roll each ball into an 8-inch round.
- When oil hits 375°F (190°C), slip each bread dish into the skillet and fry until golden brown. 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.