Friday, September 25, 2009

Navajo Tacos

It was well over thirty years ago that I attended my first Pow Wow in California. It was a joyous event with dancing and chanting and booths selling good food. That's where I was introduced to Navajo Tacos. The fillings were familiar - the standard fare for tacos, but it was the vehicle upon which these fillings were piled that was a new taste treat.

There was a small recipe booklet for sale there. Its mimeographed typed pages were stapled to a brown construction paper cover with a hand drawn design and hand-lettered words: "Native American Cookery" was the title. Inside the cover: "These Indian Recipes were donated by members of the Native American Community of East Contra Costa County California. Some of them are traditional recipes that have been handed down through generations, some have been up-dated to suit our modern facilities for preparing foods."

I admit I haven't tried the recipe for Roasted Squirrel or Jack Rabbit, but several others have become family favorites and I'll share some of these with you from time to time. Today, however, it's time for tacos.

Navajo Fried Bread - Standard Recipe

4 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
Enough milk or water to make of a biscuit dough consistency.

Sift together dry ingredients, add milk (or water) turn out on floured board and knead well as you would yeast bread. Take a piece of dough about the size of an egg and roll with rolling pin. It will be slightly thicker than pie crust. Fry in hot fat until golden brown. Serve hot.

Helpful Hints from the Practical Preserver

1. Use canola oil for frying to eliminate trans fats.
2. Keep the rolling pin floured to prevent dough sticking to it.
3. Use tongs to turn the fry bread while it's frying.
4. Drain fry bread on paper towels to absorb extra oil.

Navajo Taco

Place a large scoop of refried beans and some browned ground beef on top of a piece of Navajo Fried Bread. Now place some shredded lettuce, chopped tomatoes, onions and grated cheese on top. Makes a very hearty meal.

Helpful Hints from the Practical Preserver

1. Add diced chilies.
2. Add shredded cheddar cheese.
3. Add sliced black olives.
4. Dump on some sour cream, salsa, and guacamole.
5. Sprinkle with green and/or red taco sauce.
6. Top with fresh chopped cilantro.

You could probably create the tallest taco in the world, if you kept on going.


  1. This sounds great, Karen. The fried bread recipe will make a lot, though -- can the dough or the finished breads be frozen?

  2. I learned how to make fry bread years ago when I taught school near the Navajo reservation. I was taught to shape it with my hands, and boy, do you lose that skill if you don't practice often! Thanks for reminding me of this yummy recipe. I need to make it for my kids.

  3. This is a terrific supper on a cold night. Not to mention working by the stove keeps you warm as well.

    Survival Mom, I've watched the dough being shaped by hand and it's definitely an art. One I don't possess - hence the rolling pin.

    Patricia, This recipe feeds a family of four and I've never frozen the dough as there was never any leftover. Should freeze okay, wrapping first tightly in plastic wrap and then placing in freezer bag.

  4. This sounds wonderful! We love tacos here. The bread sounds good (and easy!) too. I like your ideas for making them healthier, too. Thanks so much for sharing these.

    Mystery Writing is Murder

  5. Love your blog, Elizabeth. I learn so much from you. Thanks.

  6. Okay, I am now totally jonsing for a good taco. Wow - they sound good! I like the recipe for the bread too - doesn't sound too difficult. Yummmm. I love visiting this blog - so many delicious ideas!

    Nancy, from Realms of Thought…

  7. Hi Karen, do you have a photo? Want to see how it looks like.

    Bargain with the Devil

  8. Hi Enid,

    No photos right now. Will try to get some up soon. Thanks for the reminder.

  9. This is a great post.. Very informative... I can see that you put a lot of hard work on your every post that's why I think I'd come here more often. Keep it up! By the way, you can also drop by my blogs. They're about Vegetable Gardening and Composting. I'm sure you'd find my blogs helpful too.


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~ I'm the author of Headwind: The Intrepid Adventures of OSS Agent Katrin Nissen. If you're a WWII buff, you'll like it here!