Navajo tacos (chili?)

Filet Mignon
2008/02/21 15:53:19
We are here in Santa Fe and went to "The Plaza" where the native Americans sell jewelry. We know a few of them, so my daughter asked what they like to eat (her school in NYC is having a pot luck lunch and she wants to bring Native American food).

One woman suggested Navajo Tacos and gave us the recipe: brown ground beef, add beans, add (dried crushes) chile.

Another suggested posole: hominy, pork, (dried crushed) red chile.

In fact, many Native dishes in SW are something or other with red chile. Sometimes they add tomato, buy usually not. Maybe some onipn/garlic.

These foods sound like what we "Anglos" call Chili.

Does anyone have any insights here?

Michael Hoffman
Double-chop Porterhouse
RE: Navajo tacos (chili?) 2008/02/21 16:10:35

1 lb. ground beef
1 onion, minced
2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
Dash of Tabasco sauce
Pinto beans, cooked and seasoned
Grated cheese
Shredded lettuce
Chopped tomatoes

Combine meat, onion, salt, pepper, and Tabasco sauce. Brown in a skillet; cover and simmer while making Indian fry bread.


2 eggs
1 c. milk
4 c. flour
2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt

Beat eggs; add milk. Stir in flour, salt, and baking powder mixing well. Roll out dough very thin on floured board. Cut into desired shapes.
Fry in deep fat until brown. Drain on absorbent paper. In center of one fry bread put two tablespoons pinto beans; top with meat sauce, lettuce, and tomatoes. Sprinkle with grated cheese. Serve hot.

RE: Navajo tacos (chili?) 2008/02/21 16:34:47
Way back when Chili's was a roadfood kinda place on Greenville ave. in Dallas, they made a chili taco that sounds kinda like this. It has been so long that I can't remember exactly what they were like. I just remember they were good. Hmm, maybe they got the idea from the Navajo? Maybe not cause it was more like chili, just hardly any broth.

Hmm, no chiles in Michaels recipe. I guess chiles were imported to NM?
Michael Hoffman
Double-chop Porterhouse
RE: Navajo tacos (chili?) 2008/02/21 16:42:54
It's not my recipe. I just posted the first one I saw.
RE: Navajo tacos (chili?) 2008/02/21 19:31:43
Oh, sorry Michael. I should have said ... the recipe Michael posted. Anyway, chiles are, I think, not native to NM. So the Navajo's would not have had them until someone brought them to NM. NM and chiles are now like birds and feathers.
Michael Hoffman
Double-chop Porterhouse
RE: Navajo tacos (chili?) 2008/02/21 20:46:47
Heck, I don't know a thing about it. While I've certainly been to New Mexico, back then I wasn't looking for any local fare. I was working on a pipeline on the Shiprock Navajo Reservation and making weekly visits to Gallup for sustenance different from the camp cook's "food."
RE: Navajo tacos (chili?) 2008/05/25 09:18:05
I grew up in Farmington - on the northeast corner of the Navajo Nation, thirty miles east of Shiprock - in the 1950's and had never heard of a Navajo taco. I first encountered one (in the 1960's) at a truck stop in Tuba City and thoroughly enjoyed it. Since then, I have eaten them at numerous places and learned a little about them. The dish was invented (created) by a white motel operator in Window Rock in the early 1960's. Apparently, he was hungry one night and went to the motel restaurant kitchen to see what he could find. He took a piece of fry bread, topped it with chili, lettuce, chopped tomatoes, beans, grated cheese, and whatever else was laying around. He enjoyed his creation so much that he added it to the motel menu. It was well received by his customers and the dish began appearing on other menus around the Navajo Nation.

The last time I visited the Four Corners, there were vendors in each quadrant selling jewelry, trinkets, fry bread, Navajo tacos, etc. Navajo vendors in New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah and Mountain Ute vendors in Colorado. On the Hopi reservation, the dish is simply called an Indian Taco - the same is true on the Mountain Ute reservation. The exact recipe will vary much as potato salad, cole slaw, bbq sauce and such vary from one establishment to another.

For a short time, in the late 1980's, Navajo tacos were available here in Marietta, Georgia. A local dentist (a Mormon from Utah) financed a local restaurant and various western dishes, including Navajo tacos, on the menu. Unfortunately, the concept didn't make it. The building has been a well respected barbecue restaurant for the last fifteen years.
post edited by Milt - 2009/01/31 17:56:26
Double Chili Cheeseburger
RE: Navajo tacos (chili?) 2008/05/25 09:50:51
Excellent info, Milt!
RE: Navajo tacos (chili?) 2008/05/26 00:38:46
Those Rednecks in GA don't understand any food that needs more than 3 letters to spel it, like BBQ---With one exception, Grits!
Double Cheeseburger
RE: Navajo tacos (chili?) 2008/05/26 00:48:49
Chiles have been grown in New Mexico since the 1500's. Certainly enough time to have been incorporated into the cuisine. If you go beyond the first hit on when looking for a recipe for Navajo Tacos, you can find versions with chiles.