By the end of 1864, some eight thousand Navajo were under military control within the “new” reservation at Bosque Redondo near Ft. Sumner, New Mexico. The Navajo had learned to use the US government supplies of sugar, flour, salt, lard, powdered milk, and baking powder to make fry bread. During four years of crowded conditions and sparse supplies at Bosque Redondo, Navajo fry bread could be seen puffed up over the camp fires.
After 148 years, this simple bread is a magnificent addition to any meal. It can be served with the main course as a bread or as a dessert with fresh fruits and cream. It can also be served at breakfast with honey and cinnamon. The Navajo fry bread can be used in so many different ways – let your imagination be your guide.
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 Tablespoon salt
- 1 Tablespoon baking powder
- 1/4 cup nonfat dry milk
- 1 1/3 cups lukewarm water (approximately)
- Shortening or lard for frying
- Combine and mix flour, salt, baking powder, and dry milk in a bowl. Add enough lukewarm water to make a soft dough. Knead thoroughly – then cover with a dishtowel and let stand in a warm, draft-free place for one hour.
- Pinch off an egg-sized chunk of dough and form into a ball. Then gently flatten into a disk, about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick, forming a small hole in the center to allow for even cooking. Work it back and forth from one palm to the other to make it thinner. Carefully stretch it to a diameter of about eight to nine inches (or use a rolling pin).
- Heat shortening to at least one inch deep in a heavy iron skillet. Drop disks of dough into the hot shortening and fry until golden. Turn over dough and fry until the other side is golden. The bread should puff up as it fries.
- Drain each piece on a layer of double-thick paper towels and serve hot. For Indian tacos, fill with ground meat.