navajo tacos.

Two things come to mind when people think about Washington DC.


Sixth grade field trips and government buildings.

I mean, that’s what I think about when I think of this city.  That and Navajo tacos.

Washington DC is seriously one of my most favorite cities that I’ve ever been to.  It’s home to a plethora of Smithsonian museums, the National Zoo, beautiful gardens, historical monuments, and a castle (albeit, not quite like the castles in Scotland; this one hosts the visitors center for the Smithsonian attractions)!  Fact is, Washington DC does not disappoint on sights – considering I didn’t even mention the historical landmarks, like Fords Theatre and Martin’s Tavern.

Since there is so much to do in this city, I like to mix up our itinerary each time we head that way.  Although, I must admit, the zoo is most likely making an appearance on every visit.

What can I say.

We like our animals.

Our last trip up there, we visited the National Museum of the American Indian.  Not only does this museum showcase marvelous exhibits on Native American history and art, it also has an entire floor dedicated to entertaining and educating young children.  The imagiNATION activity center is wonderful for visitors up to the age of ten, with multiple hands-on activities geared towards learning indigenous adaptions.

But that’s not all.

Aside from the fantastic exhibits and their family-friendly activity center, they also have an incredible cafe.

Named after the term “let’s eat” in the Native language of the Piscatawny people, Mitsitam allows its visitors to enjoy the native cuisines of the Americas.  Like bison burgers.  Tlayudas.  And my favorite – the Navajo taco (called the Indian taco on their menu).

What is a Navajo taco you ask?

It starts out with some traditional frybread.  Frybread, also called Indian bread, is a bread made with flattened dough.  It’s commonly leavened with baking powder or active dry yeast, and then deep fried in oil or melted lard.  The frybread is then topped with a spiced ground beef and bean mixture and your favorite taco accompaniments.

I was won over after the first bite.   So much so, that I recreated this dish immediately after I returned home from our trip to share with my family, and I’ve made it numerous times ever since.

Plus, if you have any leftover frybread (which, if you’re like me and enjoy your taco piled high, you will), you can drizzle it with some honey and sprinkle it with a bit of cinnamon for a delicious dessert.  So stinking good!

Navajo Tacos

serves 4

for the frybread

  • 2 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. active dry yeast
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 c. warm milk (110 degrees)
  • 1 tbsp. butter, melted
  • vegetable oil, for frying

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking  powder, yeast, and salt.  Whisk the melted butter into the warm milk, and pour the milk mixture into the dry ingredients.

Stir with a wooden spoon until the mixture comes together and slightly forms a ball.  The dough should be fairly sticky, but not wet.

Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let it rest for 5-10 minutes.

While the dough is resting, heat 1 inch of vegetable oil to 350 degrees in a large skillet.

Divide the rested dough into 8 equal pieces.

Either working with floured hands, or using a rolling pin, pat the dough out into a 6-inch circle.  Gently drop the dough round into the hot oil and cook until golden brown. Flip and cook the opposite side until golden brown.

Remove from oil and place on a paper towel.

navajo taco filling

  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 3/4 c. yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 lb. bison meat (or lean ground beef, or ground turkey)
  • 2 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. paprika
  • 1 (15 oz.) can dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 (10 oz.) can petite diced tomatoes with green chiles
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • optional toppings: lettuce, cheese, diced cherry tomatoes, sour cream

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the onions and saute for 2 minutes.  Add the minced garlic and saute for an additional 30 seconds, or until fragrant.  Scoot onions to the side and add the ground meat to the skillet.

Season with salt and pepper, and stir occasionally while cooking to break up the meat.  When meat is browned and cooked through, drain the fat, and return to heat.

Stir in the remaining ingredients, cover, and simmer for 10-15 minutes.

Using a slotted spoon, spoon the mixture over the frybread and top with lettuce, cheese, tomatoes, and sour cream (or whatever toppings you prefer on your tacos).  Serve immediately.


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