Indian Foods and Recipes

by R Edward Moore

Back to the Texas Indians home page

Also check out our Mortar and Pestle page for more information on how Indians processed their food.

Traditional Indian food is plain food. They did not have all the spices we have. Much of their food was eaten raw. Most food that was cooked was cooked without anything more than a little salt. For example, most corn was roasted over a fire or boiled. Meat was roasted over a fire or dried out for future use. Corn and other seeds were ground, mixed with some water and salt and the dough was cooked in the fire. They had no butter or oils to fry things and no frying pans. I once had some Caddo beef stew. It was made with bits of beef boiled in water with a little salt. That was it.

A recipe implies combining foods and spices and cooking them together. We are used to recipes from Europeans. Europeans use spices and metal cooking pots. They use many foods the Indians did not have. The Europeans brought their foods, spices and metal pots and pans to America. They brought cows, pigs, and chickens. They also introduced grains like wheat used to make flour and breads. The Europeans also brought potatoes to North America. The Europeans got the potatoes from the South American Indians, took them to Europe and then brought them back to North America. The Indians had none of these things before the Europeans brought them.

The Europeans got quite a few new foods like the potato from the Indians. Indian foods the Europeans got include corn, turkey, potatoes, yams, wild rice, many kinds of squash, watermelons, and many new kinds of beans. Today we are beginning to raise buffalo for meat. Buffalo meat is very good to eat and has less fat than beef.

Here are a few Cherokee recipes. They are all the result of contact with Europeans and mix Indian food and cooking with European food and cooking.


Bean Bread or Tsu-Ya-Ga

This is a favorite basic Cherokee food.

Boil some beans

Have a second pot of plain water boiling

See below to make wood ash lye.

Add some wood ash lye to fine corn meal till it turns yellow. We are talking small amounts of the lye here. DO NOT add any salt. You are making corn meal hominy here. You might be able to use hominy grits or ground up hominy instead.

When the beans are tender add the beans and some of the soup ( the water the beans were boiled in) to fine cornmeal and mix.

Make dumplings of the mix in your hand and drop in the boiling water. Salt in the dumplings will make them fall apart.

Boil till done. Experiment with the first few of them to see how long your size dumplings take to cook.

Serve with butter, or meat grease.

To make wood ashes lye take any kind of container with holes in the bottom. DO NOT USE ANY ALUMINUM. Pottery works best. Fill the container with hard wood ashes. Pour water into the ashes and let the water soak through them ashes and out the holes in the bottom. This is hard wood lye. Lye is strong stuff like an acid and should be handled with care. Avoid getting in on your skin or in your eyes. Let an adult do this. When mixed with corn meal in small amounts it is OK. Hominy is made by soaking corn kernels in lye and then washing the lye out. You are basically making hominy meal by adding lye to corn meal. You could use ground up hominy for this recipe.


Corn and Beans or Se-Lu A-Su-Li Tu-Ya

Mix hominy and cooked colored beans together and cook some more

Add pieces of pumpkin (optional) cook until pumpkins are soft

Add cornmeal, ground walnuts and ground hickory nuts. The nuts can be pounded to smushed up.

Add enough molasses to sweeten

Cook until done.

Squirrel or Sa-Lo-Li

Throw a fresh killed squirrel into a fire and burn the hair off. Scrape with a knife or sharp rock. Repeat until all the fur is gone.

Wash with water and wood ashes till the skin turns white.

Clean out the insides ( The guts )

Put on a stick over a fire till brown.

Cut up and use for a stew or fry till done.


Yellow Jacket Stew or S-Ka-V Oo-Ga-Ma

Gather yellow jacket combs (nests)

Pick out the grubs. Be careful to keep them intact.

Put the grubs in the oven on a pan to brown.

Make a soup of the browned grubs by adding them to water with some grease and a little salt.

Bear or Yo-Na

Cut the meat into strips and dry in front of a fire.

Hang the dried strips from the rafters of the house. Cover with cloth

Take strips down as you need them

Pound a strip until it turns to a meal like corn meal

Mix in a pot with water and boil to make a soup.

You can add some corn meal if you want.

I could use some more recipes here. Please send us some if you have any good ones.

Copyright by R E. Moore and Texarch Associates, 1998, all rights reserved. Graphics may not be used or reproduced without prior permission. Short parts of text may be quoted in school reports. Longer quotes require prior written permission.



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