FRYBREAD (Zahsakokwahn)-- Staple of Powwows, Symbol of Intertribal Indian Unity

Frybread: Just a couple out of hundreds, but all basically alike. The first makes 8-10 small ones or 5 big flat ones for Indian tacos.

		2 cups flour
		3 tsp baking powder
		1 tsp salt
		1 cup milk
		Deep hot fat in frypan or fryer

Sift dry ingredients. Lightly stir in milk. Add more flour as necessary to make a dough you can handle. Kneed and work the dough on a floured board with floured hands until smooth. Pinch off fist-sized limps and shap into a disk -- everyone has their own characteristic shapes.(Shape affects the taste, by the way because of how it fries). For Indian tacos, the disk must be rather flat, with a depression -- almost a hole -- in the center of both sides. Make it that way if the fry bread is going to have some sauce over it. Smaller, round ones are made to put on a plate. Fry in fat (about 375) until golden and done on both sides, about 5 minutes. Drain on absorbent paper. (Phyllis Jarvis, Paiute)

My Version for A Batch of FryBread--Makes 16-24

		4 cups flour
		1/2 teaspoon salt
		2 Tbsp baking powder
		1/4 cup oil
		1/2 to 1 cup powdered milk (don't use the
		       commercial kind, if you cn get commodity)
		2 cups water (a little more if more milk is used)

Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl, make a well in it and pour in the water and oil. Knead thoroughly to a stiff dough. Add more flour -- it shouldn't be sticky. Flour in bread varies by moisture in the air. Take a handful and pat it into a flat round with a depression in both sides of the center, or make a twisted round. Depending on the shape and how much you knead and twist and pull it, the fry bread will taste quite different. Slap it around plenty, and make sure that dought isn't sticky.

For Indian tacos (or to serve with wojape berry pudding over it), make a flat taco, about 8-9" in diameter and 1 1/2" thick at the edges, with a depression in the center of both sides (to hold the sauce).

Fry it in hot oil, either a fryer or frypan with at least 1 1/2" of oil in it. Keep crumbs and such skimmed off the oil. Oil temperature should be about 375, not smoking. Breads will puff and turn golden. Flip over to fry on both sides. Remove to drain on paper, don't stack them on top of each other until cool. Even if you're going to make thousands for a powwow, this is about the right size for a working batch. Make batch after batch after batch..... It will be noticeable that the ones different people shape come out different even if making them from the same dough. If feeding kids, work more powdered milk into it. How many it makes depends on the size you make them.

Cleanup and saving the frying oil: skim out all crumbs on the top. Cut up an apple and fry slices in the fat. Cool it. Pour through a funnel lined with a cloth towel back into can, discarding the brown sludge at the bottom.

"Modern" Wojape--a berry pudding to eat with fry bread. From Stacy Winter, Crow Creek (SD) Lakota . She calls it modern because of using any kind of frozen berries; we moderns often use government commodities gallon cans. This recipe makes enough for about 20-30 people who have 1-2 fry breads. It resides on the Indian Health Service server.

Indian tacos -- sauce etc. to serve over fry bread, at community feasts, and powwow booths.

Frybread animosh (dogs): This is like corn dogs. The dough is rolled out into a 1/2-inch thick wrapper for each hot dog. Grill the hot dogs first, then place on wrapper and seal. Pinch tightly closed along seam and ends. Use more salt in dough -- about 1 tsp in proportion to my batch ingredients. The above batch will do about 2 dozen - 30 dogs.

Health and diet-conscious people will note that fry bread is not very "healthy" food, with its high-fat content, and nothing but white flour. (The milk is water in more trad rez recipes. Who could get milk? Now you can get commodities powdered milk. For kids/school affairs, I add extra dried milk powder if I can get it) Frybread was developed by Indian women in response to commodities issue on early reservations, which included little more than flour, salt, sugar, coffee, and corn oil. It does taste quite good, and is very individual even though almost everybody uses just about the same proportions of ingredients because it tastes different according to how you knead and shape it (and what kind of oil it's fried in).

Frybread began as Indian women making the best of what was often poor-quality issue of rations in the new prison camps (reservations). The traditional part -- frying in oil -- does predate rations, using bear and deer tallow to fry cakes made of various seed meals, but frying in deep oil post-dates iron frypans obtained in trade goods.


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Copyright 1995, Paula Giese

Last Updated: Thursday, December 21, 1995 - 11:33:57 AM