Heavens to Betsy! If you want to make your head spin, do a Google search to try to determine the difference between Indian fry bread, chalupas, gorditas, and tostadas. I’m talking about the fluffy, fat pieces of fried dough with taco fixings on top. I’ve always thought of a tostada as being a fried corn tortilla and a chalupa or gordita as being a puffy, fried flour tortilla. However, now that I think more of it…some of the Mexican restaurants around here refer to their puffy flour tortillas as tostadas. Confusing.
Anyway, I stumbled across a recipe for Indian tacos with Indian fry bread the other day and decided to give it a go for dinner on Labor Day. It’s been a while since I have had Indian fry bread. All I recall of it is that I liked it. A lot.
Indian fry bread reminds me of the delicious “tostadas” (served with guacamole on top) I get at my favorite Mexican place. These little fried pillows of goodness also remind me very much of my mom’s scrumptious arepas which are popular in her native Panama. I’m guessing the name varies based on a region like so many other food and drink items. Whatever we want to call these fluffy puffs, they are good.
In the words of The Hubs, “These need to go on the list.”
What he means is that he enjoyed these suckers so much he would like to see them go into our dinner rotation, and they will likely do so. I made a few slight changes to the original recipe. Nothing major, though.
First, I browned the ground beef and strained it. Next, I added the meat back to the skillet and added the package of taco seasoning and about 3/4 cups of water. I let that cook down just a bit on medium-low heat before adding the drained can of beans and the last 1/4 cup of water. I set the heat to simmer on low for a little while I worked on the dough.
For the dough, I added the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar in a medium-sized mixing bowl. I mixed it up as well as I could with a big wooden spoon before slowly adding the cup of milk.
Once I had the dough mixed to a mostly uniform consistency, I used my hands to knead it into a ball for a little while on the counter which was sprinkled with flour. After I had the dough in a nice consistent ball that wasn’t too sticky, I let it rest on the counter for 5-10 minutes. While the dough was resting, I heated about 4 cups of oil in a large deep skillet.
Next, I cut the dough into five somewhat even slivers. At this point, I began to panic that we weren’t going to have enough dinner. I ran to the fridge and dug out some packaged flour tortillas because I felt like the dough had not made enough servings and the servings that it did make would not turn out to be very large. I went on with the mission, though, and figured we could split the five tacos between two adults and one toddler and add two additional tacos with prepackaged tortillas to the mix. I had not prepared any side items and figured three tacos per adult was a good number.
I picked up each sliver of dough and rolled it into a ball before flattening it against the flour-coated counter surface. I rolled and flattened each tortilla out the best that I could. Mine were not in perfect ovals or circles (are they ever?) but I didn’t care. My main goal was to ensure they were somewhat evenly sized. I was supposed to make them thinner in the middle by shaping out some depressions to help them cook evenly. I forgot this step. No biggie. They still turned out well.
Next, I added the first three disks of dough to the oil. I let them fry about 2-3 minutes or so on each side over medium-high heat until they were a golden brown. I think had I left them in much longer, they may have gotten tough. Once they appeared puffy and golden, I removed them to a plate lined with paper towels.
All that was left to do was dress the bread with the taco meat and toppings.
- Taco Meat:
- 1 pound of ground beef
- 1 package of taco seasoning (or you could make your own out of the spices in your cabinet)
- 1 can of kidney beans, drained
- 1 cup of water
- An extra sprinkling of cumin and chili powder (optional)
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon white sugar
- 1 cup milk
- 4 cups vegetable oil
- chopped tomatoes
- chopped lettuce
- shredded cheddar
- chopped cilantro
- Brown ground beef and strain
- Return meat to pot and add the package of taco seasoning and 3/4 cups of water
- On medium-low heat, cook the mixture down a bit before adding the drained can of beans and an additional 1/4 cup of water
- Add extra spices, if desired
- Set meat mixture on low heat to simmer
- In a medium-sized mixing bowl, add flour, baking soda, salt, and sugar
- With a large mixing spoon, mix dough as thoroughly as possible
- Slowly add the cup of milk and continue mixing
- Once dough is to a uniform consistency, place the ball of dough on a flour-sprinkled surface and allow to rest for 5-10 minutes
- Heat oil in large skillet on medium-high heat
- Divide ball of dough into five equal sections
- Roll sections into balls and then flatten into ovals or circles, leaving a slight depression in the middle
- When oil is hot, gently slide dough disks into the oil and fry for 2-3 minutes on each side until browned
- Remove disks to a paper-towel lined plate
- Add toppings of your choice and serve
All the stressing I had done over possibly not having enough food, and The Hubs and I were each stuffed after just one Indian fry bread taco! These things are so much more filling and delicious than a prepackaged taco shell or soft tortilla. What is funny is that my Cultures class students and I watched a cultural video on a family from an Arizona Navajo reservation on Friday, and this is the exact thing that the family was serving for dinner. Call these dough puffs whatever you want but definitely, make them!