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Fry bread challenge a celebration of Indigenous History Month

Fry Bread Challenge

June is National Indigenous History Month, an annual opportunity to honour the history, heritage, and diversity of Indigenous peoples in Canada. It is a time for learning, appreciating, understanding, and acknowledging the contributions and traditions of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis people.

This June, Leddy Library and Turtle Island Aboriginal Education Centre invite the UWindsor community to learn about Indigenous history, traditions, and culture through available library resources.

One of the best ways to experience a culture is to indulge in food and cuisine. Each Friday, DailyNews will share a different variation of a recipe for fry bread that readers can try making at home.

Submit photos of the resulting creations to leddycommunications@uwindsor.ca for a chance to win a copy of Tawâw: Progressive Indigenous Cuisine, and a $50 grocery store gift card. Full recipes and contest rules can be found on the Leddy Library website.

Fry bread, also known as bannock, is a common staple of Indigenous cuisine. It is believed to have originated in Scotland and was adopted by the Indigenous and Métis peoples of Canada. It is quick to make and useful for travelling in the wilderness. Many Indigenous nations in North America have their own variation of bannock. The Inuit call it palauga, Mi’kmaq luskinikn, Cree pahkwēsikan awa, and Ojibwa ba‘wezhiganag.

While many Indigenous nations have fry bread recipes of their own, not all Indigenous people believe that fry bread has a place in their cuisine due to its colonial history.

Explore the library’s Indigenous food collection to learn more about Indigenous history, food, and cooking.

Week One: Bannock Recipe by Shane M. Chartrand

“Bannock, also known as fry bread, always starts a conversation. It usually involves a critique of other people’s bannock and detailed accounts of who makes the best. I always cringe when Elders come to the restaurant and order it — they are my harshest critics. However, I've tweaked my formula over the years and have finally come up with what think is the perfect single recipe, at least for me, for the various ways you can cook bannock.

“Bannock is very versatile as an accompaniment to soups, stews, dips, and spreads. This version is cooked over a hot grill, but you can make a thicker loaf and cook it in a cast iron pan over a fire or in an oven or wrap bits of bannock around sticks to cook over hot coals. And of course, for a dessert, you can deep-fry small portions of bannock and sprinkle them with sugar.”

Ingredients

  • All-purpose flour - 3 cups or 750 milliliters
  • Baking powder - 2 tablespoons + 1.5 teaspoons or 27 milliliters
  • Granulated sugar - 2 tablespoons + 1.5 teaspoons or 27 milliliters
  • Salt - 2 tablespoons + 1.5 teaspoons or 27 milliliters
  • Water - 1 ½ cups or 375 mL - at room temperature
  • Canola oil - for grilling
  • Fleur de sel - to taste

Instructions

  1. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt in a mixing bowl until well combined. Gradually add the water, blending it in with your hands. Be careful not to overwork the dough — it should just hold together. It will be a wet, shaggy dough but really resist overmixing it — at this point, you might think “this can't be right,” but it is. Cover the bowl with a wet tea towel and set aside at room temperature for 30 minutes to rest.
  2. Preheat the grill to high: 400°F/200°C.
  3. Scatter some flour on a large, clean work surface. Divide the dough into 8 even pieces and shape into balls. Using a rolling pin, roll out each ball into a flat oblong about ¼ inch/0.5 cm thick.
  4. Brush the hot grill with oil. Brush one side of the oblong with a bit of oil and place the oiled side directly onto the grill. Cook for about 4 minutes or just until puffed up and the bottom of the bread has taken on brown grill marks. Brush the top side of the bannock with oil and flip over. Grill the other side for 3 minutes, just until browned. Remove from the grill. Generously season both sides of the hot bannock with fleur de sel. Serve warm.

Makes four to six servings.