Growing up in a very small Cree community has meant I’ve been exposed to some foods that are not necessarily common place. Case in point? Moose nose stew, not exactly for the faint of heart. Bone marrow from the thigh bone of a moose? Surprisingly tasty on a bit of bannock. But one of my favourite treats from my Cree background would have to be piping hot, fresh out of the canola oil, frybread.
My generation of Cree, which I will affectionately call the “younger” generation, have discovered the versatility of this treat. Making larger pieces of frybread and using it as a burger bun. Using flatter frybread as a base for tacos. Personally, I will even make bite size pieces and toss with cinnamon sugar. My kokum, or as non-Cree folk would say, grandma, still eats it the traditional way, with butter and Roger’s Syrup. A great example of people with innovative ideas about Cree twists on classics would be the folks over at Aboriginal Delights. I highly recommend their “bannock burger”.
Frybread in its most basic form is made up of four simple ingredients; all purpose flour, baking powder, salt, and water. Find a good balance for the formula, toss it in some canola oil and, BAM, you’ve got frybread. Learning how to make frybread from my mom was quite the experience, measurements weren’t very common place when she learned her way around the kitchen. After a few attempts I finally had an estimate for her measurements, so here we go!
First things first, frybread will be fried in about half an inch of oil over medium to high heat. Heating the oil is really the longest part of the process. Then we combine 2 cups of flour, 4 teaspoons of baking powder, and 1 teaspoon of salt. Next, a small well is made in the middle of the dry goods and in goes a cup of water. Using a fork, give the dough a few stirs to come together and then finish working it together on a lightly dusted counter. Flatten it out by hand to roughly half an inch thick and then cut into however many pieces you’d like, I typically cut it into 6. Make a small cut in the middle of each piece, this ensures an even fry, and then carefully drop into the hot oil. Cook until golden brown then flip over for the same colour, this should take from 3 to 5 minutes. When done place on a plate with paper towel. And there you have it, straight out of my kokums kitchen! This is one of my favourite recipes to experiment with and the possibilities are endless.
(I’ll see you people again. -Cree)