When I was in America recently, I was lucky enough to stay at the View hotel in Monument Valley, which is operated by Navajo Native Americans and overlooks the amazing Monument Valley itself. In fact I can't resist sharing a few pictures....
The View Hotel, built into the side of the rock
Me pretending to be John Wayne... or Johnny Depp if you've seen the stills from the new Lone Ranger film, he's standing in this exact spot!
Sunrise over Monument Valley - my boyfriend took this photo.
In the hotel restaurant I ate some Navajo Fry Bread. It's a flat bread deep fried, usually in shortening (lard), and eaten either sweet (with honey and icing sugar) or savoury (eg with a sandwich filling, or heaped with chilli). According to Wikipedia, frybread was created using ingredients given by the US government when the Navajo Native Americans were relocated to New Mexico from Arizona in 1864 (the Long Walk).
The fry bread I ate was made using blue corn which gave it an unusual bluish-grey colour, though it is also made with red corn which gives a more conventional golden colour when cooked. I ate it as a sandwich with a turkey filling at lunchtime, then when we returned to the same restaurant for dinner, my boyfriend ordered it as a starter and ate it plain. It was also on the dessert menu with honey so catering for all tastes!
The next day as we were leaving Monument Valley and passing through Arizona, we stopped off for lunch at a trading post, and in the shop I found a packet of fry bread mix. As my boyfriend likes it so much I thought it would be fun to bring one home and have a go at making it!
This is a very simple to use packet mix (and therefore one that might horrify purists who like to make everything themselves... but where else was I going to get the red corn flour?). All it contained was flour, yeast, and I think it also said shortening which confused me as I wasn't sure if that was referring to the shortening I cooked it in. I should have noted down what the packet actually said more carefully!
Simply mix the packet contents with water...
... and mix to form a ball of dough. Leave it to rest for 30-40 minutes.
Knead well then roll out. Separate into small pieces - I wasn't sure how big to make them as I found the dough quite sticky and therefore difficult to roll out as thin as it might have been. So I have some misshapen portions of different sizes here, though I figured that wouldn't matter too much.
Heat a couple of inches of oil in a pan. The instructions said to use shortening but I've never used that for deep-frying and thought oil would work much better. Gently slide each piece into the pan.
They only take a couple of minutes to cook on each side, then they are ready! Drain on paper towels once they are cooked.
They turn a lovely golden brown colour when cooked. The bread sort of puffs up and looks a little like a naan bread, but has a very different taste.
We ate the fry bread for breakfast with crispy bacon and I added a little honey to mine as well, which was lovely.
I am sending my Navajo Fry Bread to Ros aka The More Than Occasional Baker who is my co-host for Alphabakes, as the letter she has chosen this month is N. Hopefully she won't mind that I used a packet mix and didn't make this from scratch but I do think this should be one of the more unusual entries we get this month!
I am updating this post to send it to Cooking Around the World, as their theme this month (for which they accept old posts) is American food.