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How To Make Fry Bread, Wojapi, and Indian Tacos

Fry bread is perhaps the Native American comfort food, a flatbread that is fried rather than baked, unlike most other popular flatbreads. Fry bread dough is basically the same as biscuit dough.

Probably the most common way to eat fry bread is to tear off pieces and dip them in wojapi, which is a thickened fruit sauce. While any kind of fruit or berries may be used to make wojapi, cherries are the most traditional, because choke cherries were one of the fruits gathered by Native Americans.

Wojapi is basically the same thing as pie filling—fruit that has been heated with water and thickened with flour or cornstarch.

Perhaps the most delicious way to use fry bread is to use it to make Indian Tacos. Indian tacos are simply traditional taco fillings wrapped in fry bread, instead of being put into a taco shell.

I first tasted Indian tacos when I was teaching on the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota. Local cooks often took orders from teachers and delivered them at lunch time. Indian tacos were also one of the foods prepared for school events and fund-raisers.

Indian tacos—taco fillings wrapped in fresh, hot fry bread—are heartier and more satisfying than taco fillings served in taco shells. This is a truly special dish that is bound to become a family favorite!

Here’s how to make these Native American treats.

Fry Bread
Fry Bread

FRY BREAD

Ingredients

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 cup water

Lard for frying

Mix salt, baking powder, and flour. Add water and mix. Let sit for 10-15 minutes. Break off golf-ball size piece. It is traditional to pat to flatten pieces to ¼” thickness. Most people with find it easier to roll out fry bread on a floured board, using a rolling pin. Fry in hot lard until golden brown on both sides. Drain on paper towels.

If you will be using the fry bread to wrap taco fillings, keep them soft by blotting quickly on paper towels and slipping them immediately into plastic freezer bags. Fry bread that has stiffened after cooling can also be softened by microwaving for a few seconds.

Fry Bread with Wojapi
Fry Bread with Wojapi

WOJAPI—The Dipping Sauce for Fry Bread

2 cups fresh berries (pitted cherries, blueberries, blackberries, etc.)

2 cups water

1 cup sugar

2-3 tablespoons corn starch

In a saucepan, cook berries, sugar, and water together until berries are done. Mix the cornstarch in a little cold water. Bring the berries to a boil and add the cornstarch and water mixture to the boiling berries, stirring constantly. Remove the berries from heat when the sauce thickens—which will happen after a few seconds of cooking.

Serve as a dipping sauce for fry bread, or spread wojapi on fry bread like jam.

Here's one way to kind of cheat on the wojapi: Wojapi is indistinguishable from canned pie filling. After you've gone to all the trouble to make fry bread, you could serve it with warmed, canned, cherry pie filling (or other pie filling). Nobody has to know!

Open Faced Indian Taco
Open Faced Indian Taco

INDIAN TACOS

To make Indian tacos, simply prepare taco filling in the same way as for traditional tacos: Brown ground beef, and add taco seasoning and water per package directions.

Some people prefer to mix refried beans into the hamburger and seasoning mixture, both as an extender for the hamburger, and to help hold the taco meat mixture together.

Place the hamburger mixture in the middle of a warm piece of fry bread and add other toppings, such as taco sauce, chopped tomatoes, chopped scallions, sour cream, and shredded cheese.

When Indian tacos are offered for sale, the fillings and toppings are usually wrapped completely in fry bread and secured with toothpicks. This wrapping method works well when Indian tacos will be transported somewhere, either for sale or for a picnic. When Indian tacos are offered for sale, they are often wrapped in aluminum foil.

At home, Indian tacos can be served open-faced or with the bread wrapped securely around the fillings—however is most convenient for your family.

For most appetites, a single Indian taco makes a hearty meal.

Selling Indian Tacos at School Events and Fundraisers

On the reservations, sales of Indian tacos at school events and fund raisers is usually a big success, and because a well filled Indian taco is a full and really delicious meal by itself, they command a good price.

The best approach for offering Indian tacos for sale at school events and fund-raisers is to prepare both the fry bread, fillings, and toppings ahead, so that preparers need only assemble the tacos.

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