Navajo Fry Bread

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Happy Indigenous People’s Day!

What better way to celebrate Native American Heritage than with a recipe that reminds us just how crappy American’s have been to these people. This recipe was developed in the Southwest on reservations (which the tribes were forced onto) as a way to utilize the government supplied flour, sugar, and lard.  It became a cultural unifier, but also contributed to poor health.   Shitty, but also delicious.

I fell in love with this bread on a trip though the Southwest when I was a kid (in the 1970’s). It was on the table at every restaurant back then.   I haven’t seen it in years, probably because people are extra health conscious these days. (Also, I haven’t been to New Mexico in a hella fortnight.) When I worked at a Southwestern restaurant in the 1980’s (when that was trendy) we used it to make Southwest pizzas. It’s not bad as a taco pincher either. However, I prefer it as is. Many people like to top it with honey or jam, but my preference has always been on the savory side. (I’m not much of a sweetie.) I have always added the coriander and scallions as per my old job, but you can certainly leave them out.

Make it, and as you eat it, think about Iron Eyes Cody and his Keep American Beautiful ad. And don’t think even a little bit about Columbus.

Ingredients

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon sugar

½ teaspoon salt

2 scallions, chopped fine

½ teaspoon ground coriander

1 ½ cups cold water

vegetable or peanut oil for frying

Method

Combine flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, scallions, and coriander in a bowl and stir together. Add water slowly, stirring, until a dough is formed. (You may use a little more or less water—flour absorption rates vary, as does human accuracy in measuring.) Knead briefly on a floured surface until a soft dough forms, then set aside to rest for 15 minutes.

Heat oil to 375 °F.   Working on the floured surface again, roll dough into large gold ball size pieces. Flatten (with fingers or a rolling pin) each ball into a disc about ¼ of an inch thick. Fry in heated oil until golden brown on each side, about 2-3 minutes. Drain on paper towels, then serve hot.

 

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