When it comes to North American dishes, more focus is often put on foods that were introduced to the continent by settlers a few hundred years ago. Because of that, many people don’t know much about the foods that existed there before the arrival of Europeans. Care to learn about the original foods of North America? If yes, this article lets you in on the 5 traditional North American dishes of all time, just to get you started.
1. Navajo Taco
Also known as “fry bread taco” or “Indian taco”, fry bread taco is one of the most popular native American dishes. For those who don’t know, it’s a delicious fry bread with a topping consisting of different foods. The topping is normally made of beef, or venison plus other ingredients usually found in tacos including taco seasoning and Picante sauce.
The history of fry bread taco goes way back to 157 years ago. It involves the Navajo community and the United States Government. For starters, the Navajo people are the largest Native American tribe with more than 300,000 known members. They are today settled in a place called Navajo Nation, a 27,673-square-mile reservation covering the corners of 3 US states; New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah.
In the early 1860s, a severe drought hit the indigenous community, decimating their agricultural resource.s and livestock. To rescue the Navajo people from famine, the federal government provided food aid. The people received flour, sugar, lard, and salt, which they used to create fry bread.
Tsu-Ya-Ga is known as “Bean Bread” in English. The bread is one of the traditional dishes belonging to the Cherokee Indians. The modern tsu-ya-ga delicacy is a slight variation of the original one, which entailed fewer ingredients. The latter was made with brown beans, milk, melted shortening, cornmeal, flour, honey, and beaten eggs only. Unlike the former, it lacked extra ingredients like baking powder and sugar, which were only invented many years later.
A less known health benefit of tsu-ya-ga is that it helps detox the body, thanks to the pinto beans that serve as an ingredient for it. Pinto beans are legumes, which are generally loaded with dietary fiber. This nutrient cleanses the intestines, helping flush toxins away from the body.
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3. Apache Stew
Apache stew is one of the foods most commonly eaten by the members of the Apache. The clans are today found mostly in Arizona, Oklahoma, and New Mexico. This delicious and comforting stew is made with a whole lot of ingredients including venison, cloves garlic, sunflower oil, and chilies. The remaining ingredients are; yellow onion, carrots, hominy, beef broth, salt, pepper, bitter greens like endive, bell peppers, and sometimes sweet corn.
4. Cheyenne Chicken
The Cheyenne tribe is known to be the pioneer of some of the yummiest native American delicacies. One of the dishes this community invented, which is hard to resist, is Cheyenne chicken. This spicy and flavor-rich dish is made with just a few ingredients, which means it’s easy and affordable to make. The ingredients are; boneless veal steaks, pork steak, beaten egg, milk, and cracker crumbs.
First, the steaks(veal and pork)are separately cut into small cubes. Then, they are alternated on skewers. After that, the beaten egg is mixed with milk before the skewers are dipped into the mixture. Next, the skewers are dipped into the cracker crumbs to prepare them for browning in hot oil. After being browned, they are placed in the baking pan and baked with 1-inch water for about 40 minutes. They can be served as a snack, which you can enjoy just as it is, with other food, or with your favorite drink.
5. Wild Rice and Berries With Popped Rice
The Lakota people who live in both the United States and Canada have enjoyed wild rice and berries with popped rice for centuries. This mouthwatering delicacy is made with long-grain wild rice, mixed dried berries, crushed hazelnuts, sliced chive stems, maple syrup, and hazelnut oil. It is common in Native American ceremonies or events including weddings and holiday celebrations, or funerals.
The rice is specially cooked to taste nutty and woodsy. It can be topped with different items such as pan-seared fish, roast meat, sautéed vegetables, winter squash, or roasted turnips. Though the dish is normally garnished in different ways, many people garnish it with dried or fresh ramp leaves, depending on the time of year. Sliced scallions or chive stems can also be used as simple substitutes.
Navajo taco, tsu-ya-ga, Apache stew, Cheyenne chicken, and wild rice and berries with popped rice remain some of the most popular indigenous dishes of North America. These dishes were invented by the indigenous Indian tribes that inhabited the continent many years before the arrival of Europeans and are still doing up to date. These foods remain an integral part of their traditional cultures. Though Western foods seem to have overtaken native American foods, in terms of popularity, it’s not that difficult to get to try these foods. After all, many places across the nation offer them. All you have to do is to visit one and order your desired dish.