Chickasaw Nation

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Foods

PreviewThere are many offerings that are considered traditional Chickasaw recipes. Most notably this includes grape dumplings, Indian fry bread and pishofa. You can find these recipes and other traditional Chickasaw fare in Ilimpa'chi' (We’re Gonna Eat!): A Chickasaw Cookbook by JoAnn Ellis and Vicki May Penner.

The Chickasaw Cultural Center (CCC) Spiral Gardens, located to the east of the Traditional Village at the CCC, provides fruits and vegetables that are used in Aaimpa' Café recipes. On the roof of the Chikasha Poya Exhibit Center, the “green” rooftop garden provides energy savings along with produce for the Aaimpa' Café.


Traditional Chickasaw Foods

The Three Sisters: Beans, Squash and Corn (Bala', Olbi', Tanchi')

The vegetable medley of corn, squash and beans (the Three Sisters) were planted together so each plant could support and nourish the others.

Grape Dumplings (Panki' Alhfola')

Grape Dumplings were traditionally made from the wild “possum grapes” that hung from vines on trees throughout the homelands of Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee.

From the Cookbook:

In a large pot place:

  • 64 ounces grape juice
  • Sugar to taste

Bring to a rolling boil. Drop dumplings into boiling grape juice. Mix 1 Tablespoon cornstarch in 1 cup water. Add to hot grape juice. Stir constantly to prevent scorching.

Dumplings:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1¼ cups water
  • 1 Tablespoon cornstarch

Place flour in a heap on tabletop. Make a well in center of flour and crack an egg into center. Using a fork, begin mixing the egg into the flour and add water as you go. Form the dough into a ball and roll out very thin. Cut into 1-inch squares. Drop the squares into the hot grape juice. Cook until dumplings are done and not doughy.

Mix 1 Tablespoon cornstarch in 1-cup water, pour into pot to thicken.
Cook for a few minutes and serve hot.

Fry Bread and Fried Pork (Paskawaalhaaki', Shokha' Nipi' Awaalhahli')

Fry bread is a delicious flour-based side dish. Dough is rolled into balls, then flattened out to about the size of an open hand and dropped into hot oil. Fry bread is crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. It is used as the base of the very popular Indian Taco, which can be experienced in the Aaimpa' Café at the Chickasaw Cultural Center in Sulphur.

Pigs were not native to the homelands but were introduced to Chickasaws by conquistador Hernando de Soto. After de Soto wore out his welcome, Chickasaws raided his camp under the cover of darkness and routed his troops. During the melee many pigs were captured by Chickasaw warriors and many simply escaped into the woods. Pork became a favorite dish.

Fry Bread Recipe:

  • 2 cups sifted flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup warm water or milk

Sift first three ingredients together and stir in beaten egg. Add water or milk to make soft dough. Round up on lightly floured cloth or bread board. Knead lightly. Roll or pat out 1/2 inch thick. Cut into strips about 2 x 3 inches and slit center. Drop into deep fat. Brown on both sides. Serve hot. Good with pinto beans, stew or syrup.

Pishofa (Tash Pishofa)

Pishofa is a traditional dish that consists of cracked corn (hominy) and pork, which is covered in water and boiled for several hours. Pishofa has been used by alikchi' (doctors) in healing ceremonies for the gravely ill.

Pishofa:

  • 1 pound cracked corn (pearl hominy)
  • 1 pound fresh lean pork (meaty back bone)
  • 2 quarts water (add more if needed)

Wash and clean corn. Bring water to boil and add corn. Cook slowly, stirring often. When corn is about half done, add the fresh pork; cook until the meat and corn are tender and soft. The mixture should be thick and soupy. Cooking time is about four hours. Add no salt while cooking. Each individual salts to their own taste once the dish has been served. If meaty back bone is not available, use fresh chopped pork (small pieces). Pork chops are good to use as well.

Additional Chickasaw Recipes:

Bread (Choctaw — Chickasaw) Banaha

  • 2 cups cornmeal
  • 1 1/2 cups hot water
  • 1 teaspoon soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Corn shucks (boil about 10 minutes before using.)

Mix dry ingredients. Add water until mixture is stiff enough to handle easily. Form small oblong balls the size of a tennis ball and wrap in corn shucks. Tie in middle with corn shuck string, or use oblong white rags 8 x 10 inches, cut from an old sheet. Banaha is much better boiled in shucks. Drop covered balls into a deep pot of boiling water. Cover and cook 40 minutes. Serve.

Indians used to heat hog lard and pour it over bread as gravy. Leftovers may be stored in the refrigerator. To serve, slice each ball into 1/2-inch slices and fry in hot fat. Variation: Add 1/2 Cup cooked black-eyed peas or red beans to recipe.

Bread (Chickasaw) Indian Molasses Bread

Pour 1/2 cup boiling water over 1/2 cup shortening. Add 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup molasses, 1 beaten egg and 1 1/2 cup flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon soda, 1/2 teaspoon ginger and a scant teaspoon of cinnamon. Beat until smooth. Bake in oblong pan at 350 degrees for 35 minutes. Cool in pan.

Desserts (Chickasaw) Pumpkin Cookies

  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1 1/2 cup cooked pumpkin
  • 2 1/2 cup flour, less 2 tsp
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 cup raisins or dates
  • 1 cup chopped nuts
  • 1 teaspoon lemon extract
  • 1 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Cream together shortening and sugar. Add eggs, pumpkin and spices. Blend well. Sift dry ingredients together and add to pumpkin mixture. Blend until smooth. Stir in raisins, nuts and flavoring. Drop by teaspoons onto greased cookie sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. Yield: approximately three dozen cookies.

Last Updated: 02/9/2015