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How to Make Native American Fry Bread

Homemade Native American fry bread

Inspired by the children’s book, Fry Bread, by author Kevin Noble Maillard, we wanted to honor Native American Heritage Month by creating a traditional dish that has been a food staple in Native American culture. Although the recipe and instructions look a bit daunting, this recipe, which is located at the back of the book, is relatively easy!

Fry Bread A Native American Family Story by Kevin Noble Maillard

What is Fry Bread?

Fry bread is a dough that is baked flat and fried. The ingredients are simple, and the bread is usually enjoyed alone or with various toppings such as honey, jam, sugar, and more!

Native American Heritage History of Fry Bread

Fry bread is believed to have been created around 150 years ago by the Navajo tribe. While the tribe was fighting for their community and land, they were forced to move, making it hard to keep food and forcing improvisation. Because the tribes were isolated from their meat, vegetables, and fruits, they had to get by with what they had, which was minimal.

How to Make Fry Bread

Fry Bread Ingredients:

  • 1 pint boiling water
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1 ½ cups cold water
  • ½ oz. instant yeast (approximately two packages)
  • 1 cup raw sugar (we used regular white sugar)
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 3 ½ cups flour
  • 32 oz. unrefined coconut oil

Instructions from the Book, Fry Bread

  1. Bring one pint of water to a boil. Add the cornmeal and stir slowly until it is smooth. Reduce the heat to medium. Add the cold water and cook while stirring until the mixture is thick. Remove from the heat and let the mixture cool.
  2. When the mixture is cool, transfer the dough to a large bowl and add yeast, sugar, and salt. You’ll need to add sprinkles of water every so often to moisten the mixture. Using a whisk or potato masher, gradually add the flour. Sprinkle some water to keep the dough moist but not so much that it isn’t thick. Cover the bowl with a damp cloth or towel and let it rise for three hours.
  3. When the dough is ready, (it should be sticky and springy to the touch) heat the oil to medium in an iron skillet. The oil should sizzle when you drop a bit of dough, but not splatter. Make golf ball-sized balls using two oiled spoons. Gently drop the dough into the oil. Be sure to leave room in the pan since the ball will expand as it cooks.
  4. Fry the dough in the oil for about three minutes until it looks fully cooked. Flip the piece over using tongs and cook the other side. When you are satisfied with the color, transfer the bread to a plate lined with paper towels. Separate each layer with a paper towel as you go.

Fry Bread Recipe – Video Tutorial

Isn’t the relationship between fry bread and Native American tribes interesting? There are more interesting informational resources and engaging activities for you and your family on our website! Discover interactive children’s activities, parenting tips, and book recommendations in our Family Resource Library.

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