Monday, November 10

Indian Tacos

Indian Taco (Sioux, Cherokee or Navajo)

My husband and I and our kids have a love for South Dakota and the Black Hills.  We have made several trips out West and always discover something new, beautiful or amazing (sometimes all at once) on each trip.

This last September just my husband Bill and I made the trip.
When planning the trip, we made sure to reserved a couple days to drive the back roads off the beaten tourist routes, through and around the Badlands National Park and into the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation with a stop at the Wounded Knee Massacre Site. 

The Reservation has some of the most beautiful scenery in the state but the people live in extreme poverty.  The Wounded Knee Massacre site and story is something you should research and visit if you are in the Badlands area. I highly recommend the visit.  Also, make sure to stop at the Visitor's Center and then view the Wounded Knee Massacre Interpretation Presentation at the Oglala Lakota College Historical Center, which is across the street from the Visitor's Center

The Badlands National Park

The Pine Ridge Indian Reservation covers more than 2.8 million acres in southwestern South Dakota, making it the second-largest reservation in the United States and larger than Delaware and Rhode Island combined.

If you have ever traveled to the Badlands then you know there are not many places in or near the park to eat (or hotels for that matter).  Bill and I decided to have dinner at Cedar Pass Lodge, inside the National Park.
We ordered the Indian Taco, which is made with Indian Fry Bread. 

The view from Cedar Pass Lodge

Indian Fry Bread is a Native American quick bread that's fried and served either plain, drizzled with butter and honey or sprinkled with cinnamon sugar.  It can also topped with scrambled eggs for breakfast or with seasoned taco meat and veggies (a taco).

According to Navajo tradition, Fry Bread was created in 1864 using the flour, sugar, salt and lard rations that was given to them by the United States government when the Navajo, who were living in Arizona, were forced to make the 300-mile journey known as the "Long Walk" and relocate to Bosque Redondo, New Mexico onto land that could not easily support their traditional staples of vegetables and beans.
For many Native Americans, Fry Bread links generation with generation and also connects the present to the painful narrative of Native American history. 
It is often served both at home and at gatherings. The way it is served varies from region to region and different tribes have different recipes.
South Dakota even designated Fry Bread as the official state bread with House Bill Number 1205 on February 25, 2005.

I have to tell you the Indian Taco was amazing! My husband and I only ordered one and shared it. The bread is a perfect taste combination of lightly salty and lightly sweet and not greasy as I had expected.  The fry bread is actually and surprisingly light and crispy. It was topped with seasoned buffalo meat and other toppings you would expect to find on a regular taco.

Living in Ohio, buffalo meat is not as readily available as it is in South Dakota and the price for a pound of buffalo meat here is usually more than the price of a good steak. 
Needless to say we used ground chuck (hamburger) for our Indian Taco.

The mixing and frying sound harder than it really is. This is a really simple bread to make and not very time consuming.  It took longer to diced all the vegetables! 
The only thing I would change is I will try next time to find a better Taco seasoning mix.  I used all natural sour cream and organic beans but the seasoning mix is made of ingredients I can't even pronounce.  Maybe I can make up a batch of my own taco seasonings. Yep, just something else added to my list!

Indian Taco
Makes 4

Meat Mixture:
1 pound ground buffalo (or hamburger or other ground meat)
1 package Taco seasoning
1 can refried beans

Fry Bread:
2 cups flour
¼ cup sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup water
Oil for frying

Prepare desired toppings!
Toppings Ideas:
Grated cheese
Shredded lettuce
Diced tomatoes and onions

Sliced black olives
Sour cream, salsa or guacamole

Dice desired veggies and shred cheese.
Brown the meat in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add taco seasoning and refried beans. Mix well and keep warm.

Brown meat and add beans and seasonings

While meat is cooking mix up the Fry bread:
Mix together flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Add water to make soft dough.  

Mix up the dough for the Fry Bread

On a floured surface, divide dough into 4 equal parts.  In a heavy skillet, heat approximately 1 to 2 inches of oil.

Divide dough into 4 equal parts

Roll or pat out one dough ball into a flat circle to about 1 inch thick. 

Flatten dough into a circle

Carefully slide dough circle into hot oil. Fry until golden brown.

Carefully place dough circle into heated oil

Using a slotted spatula, carefully and slowly flip the dough circle over and fry the other side to golden brown. Remove the Fry Bread from the oil and drain on paper towels.

Fry until golden brown
Drain Fry Bread on paper towels

Spoon meat mixture onto warm Fry Bread then layer with your favorite taco toppings.


Indian Taco topped with sour cream
My husband has relatives living in South Dakota and they told me that at many Fry Stands in South Dakota, the Fry Bread is made with Rhoades Frozen Bun Dough or Bread Dough, thawed, shaped, then fried by the method in my recipe. 

Different ways to eat and serve Fry Bread
  • Eat them warm as they come out of the fryer
  • Mix soft butter and honey together and spread it on top
  • Sprinkle with a cinnamon sugar mixture while warm
  • Sift powdered sugar on top
  • Make scramble eggs and cheese and serve them on Fry Bread
  • And of course, the famous Indian Taco

Fall and Winter are months I really like to cook and work on crafting.  What keeps you busy during the cold winter months?


Tent Camping List

Sunflower field in the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation


Paula Bidwell said...

I am Native American and would like to thank you for a thoughtful article and a great recipe!

Elizabeth Ohiothoughts said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Elizabeth Ohiothoughts said...

Paula, you are welcome, and thanks for commenting! And needless to say, I am hooked on Fry Bread! I am now thinking of other things I can put on top of it, yum!

Anonymous said...

Hello. And Bye.

Anonymous said...

Still eating though, Indian taco give me diarrhea.