Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Indian Tacos

,I was reading a book the other day when it mentioned what a great cook the Native American mother was.  This got me to thinking about all the great food we used to have up on the Duck Valley Indian Reservation in Nevada and Idaho.  Those people loved to eat and, since there wasn't that much going on up there, we had a lot of potlucks and occasions to get together with food as the centerpiece.

The most popular form of food for us at school was the Indian Taco.  We made them in my classes whenever we could find an excuse to, but we served them in the concession stand at most basketball games.  The most important thing about Indian Tacos is the fry bread used as the base.  Every family on the Rez has their favorite recipe and the kids also insisted that so and so's grandmother should be the one to donate the tacos.  As the Family and Consumer Science (home ec) teacher, I felt obligated to get a really good recipe to use as my basic one in class.  This proved to be quite difficult for several reasons!  First, everyone thought theirs was best and none of them were quite the same.  Next, everyone wanted to show me how it was done right.  And then, when I tried to get the recipe they would say well, I don't use measurements!  I agree there is a technique to shaping but some were easier than others. (there are a lot of jokes about techniques used by different tribes, as well)  I finally got a nice easy basic recipe which I used the whole time I was there and it seemed to work fine.  To be honest, though, I really like the recipe that uses yeast the best but it is not the most popular one in Owyhee!  I am including a recipe and then some variations for you to try.

 4 Cups flour
2 Tbsp baking powder
2  tsp.  salt
2  tsp.  sugar
Enough warm milk to make a soft dough (about 1 1/2 Cups)

Mix dry ingredients together, add milk and stir to make a soft dough.  knead until soft but not sticky.  (too much kneading makes them tough)  Shape into balls about 3 inches in diameter.  Flatten to about 1/2 inch thick and the size of a salad plate. (this is where technique comes into play--my students slapped them in between their hands but just pressing them out or rolling them will work too).  The next part also depends on who is doing it, too.  I cut a small slit in the middle, some poke with a fork, some don't do anything and I saw where someone said to make a small depression in the middle but I don't see how you would do that. Heat up deep fat in a heavy skillet (about 4 Cups oil), add tacos 1 at a time and cook to light golden, turn and cook other side.  Place on paper towels to cool.

2 cans chili beans or 2 cans pinto beans with about 1/4 Cup picante sauce--heated
1 pound hamburger
1 pkg. taco seasoning
shredded cheddar cheese
shredded lettuce
diced fresh tomatoes
diced onions
sliced black olives
sour cream
picante sauce or salsa

Brown hamburger, add taco seasoning and follow directions on package.  Place fry bread on a plate.  Put beans, meat and cheese on top.  Add any other toppings you want and enjoy! 


Fry bread can be eaten with cinnamon and sugar sprinkled on them and honey drizzled over them, too.

I like using yeast dough to make them.  You can use frozen dough or make your own and then make 3 inch balls and flatten like the others.

 We never even used meat in the ones we did for concessions, just the chili beans and they were really good too.

MMMMM!  Still warm

Tory fixes chili beans ready for concessions



  1. Mrs. Manville you are AWESOME! Do you know that I still have and use the recipe from the time we made crepes in your foods class? You are part of the reason I love to cook so much! Thank you! Jason Slane

  2. Oh, the good ole days!!!! Miss it lots, but not too much as life has to move on. How is everyone doing? When did you finally retire? Still working on the retirement...just bought a house here in Vegas, so tha tmight slow things a bit, but that is okay, too.

  3. Love it! I might snag this and repost it on my blog. Would that be okay?

  4. Jason--I'm impressed! Thanks for the compliment, I think..... Terry--I retired 6 years ago and love it! I still keep real busy, too.
    Kathi--Of course you can!