Cherokee Indian fried bread/Cherokee biscuits/Photo byGin Lee
Cherokee Indian fried bread
This morning, I felt like going back to my roots and making homemade Cherokee fried bread. When I was a little girl, my great-grandmother (who was Cherokee Indian) taught me how to make simple, but oh so delicious Cherokee fried bread, while she'd tell me about the hardships my ancestors went through while walking the Trail of Tears (American Indian removal that began in 1831, ended in 1850). Many American Indians suffered from hunger, disease, and brutality. The Tribes were given minimum government provisions (white flour, salt, and lard) and they had to learn how to make the most from what they were given, while rationing the provisions to survive. I was told that it was during this gut wrenching journey that my Cherokee ancestors learned how to make fried bread. It's not considered being the healthiest bread ever made, but it is a traditional survival bread recipe that dates back to the Trail of Tears.
Traditionally, great-grandma used 3 cups of all-purpose flour, 1-½ teaspoons of baking powder, and a pinch of added salt, but I am using self-rising flour because it already has those ingredients added in.
This recipe will make eight small pieces of fried bread, or four large pieces. It can be made into round biscuit shapes, or into flat bread. The ingredients for both recipes are absolutely the same.
- 3 cups of self-rising flour
- 1 cup warm water
- Lard, for frying, instead of using traditional lard, you can also use bacon grease (I used about 1-¼ cups)
In a bowl, add the flour with one cup of warm water; mix until the flour is combined well and a dough ball forms. Cover the dough with a damp tea towel and let the dough rest for thirty minutes.
While the dough finishes its rest, add the lard, or cooking oil to a skillet. (The oil will need to be about two inches deep inside the pan.) Allow the grease to get piping hot over medium-high heat.
Form round balls with the dough in the palms of your hands, flattening them somewhat. Transfer the formed dough into the hot oil. Fry until the bottoms are golden brown, then flip the bread over and brown on the other side. (Place a lid over your skillet while cooking.) Fry both sides of the bread for about five minutes each.
Serve with maple syrup, honey, with fruit, or with gravy. Enjoy!
To make Cherokee flat bread for Cherokee tacos, use the same ingredients and the exact amount as in the above recipe, then completely flatten the dough balls out. Fry in a skillet of hot oil, flip once the underside of the flat bread is golden brown and finish cooking.
Add a spoonful of cooked pinto beans, shredded lettuce, and diced tomato in the center of the flat bread, then fold the flat bread in a taco shape. Serve and enjoy!