Native Recipes

Sacred Indigenous Youth Education Circle S.I.Y.E.C. Guest Book Indigenous Ecards Indigenous Artists & Merchants Anna Mae Pictou Native Nations Native Museums Native Recipes Native Healing Education  & Outreach Programs Holiday Feast Program Nov.2007 - Photos Holiday Feast, Nov. 2007 - Educational Packet CSUSB / Baca 2007 Education Summit

Native American / Native Hawaiian Recipes

 Every so often (when I have time to update) the recipes on this page will change .... so check back frequently or you may miss something.

Also, if you have a recipe you would like to share .... PLEASE share with us !!!! .... and you will receive honorable mention for sharing.


 Lakota (Lakhota), Dakota, Nakota - aka: Sioux 

Many tribes, such as the Lakota, have handed down Indian food recipes from one generation to another. The Lakota were also known by the name of Sioux. A nomadic tribe, they only hunted and ate grass-eating animals. This was because they believe in the circle of life and when they died; their bodies became grass to feed the animals.


Wasna & Wojape

 The Lakota diet was high in protein and often the tribe either had much food to eat, such as after they killed a buffalo, or very little. One of the traditional Indian food recipes that the Lakota have passed through the generations was Wasna. Wasna is a Lakota word with the “wa” meaning “anything” and the “sna” meaning ground up, although non-Lakota people refer to it as pemmican. This dish consisted of dried buffalo, dried berries, and fat or bone marrow. The Lakota’s would grind the ingredients together with a pounding stone. Wasna was a very good source of protein and the Lakota valued this traditional recipe not only as a food, but also as a healing instrument. Therefore, Wasna is often seen as a sacred food and was often used in ceremonies and rituals. Buffalo meat has more protein and less fat than beef. It also has less cholesterol, yet a mere four ounces provides more protein than a half a dozen eggs. Wasna, because of the protein it contains, can raise a person’s iron level within 15 minutes. Today’s Lakota believe that their ancestors did not suffer from diabetes, heart disease, or cancer due to the healing powers of Wasna.

Buffalo Wasna


Dried Buffalo Meat/Fat Dried, Fruit/Chokecherries


Wasna(pemmican) is a traditional food of the Plains Indigenous people. 1oz's contains 8.5 grams of protein, 9.5 grams of fructose and is 100 calories. This is a natural organic food that is dried and prepared with no preservatives or chemicals. Although our ancestors may have kept wasna for long periods of time without refrigeration, I recommend storing in the refrigerator or freezer, if not eaten right away.


Cornmeal, Chokecherries, Butter, Sugar

Corn came from the extensive trade system with agriculture tribes. The corn was roasted, grounded, and mixed with fat and berries. When cornmeal was issued as part of the government commodities, the Wasna was made from that. This dish is a comfort food that sustained Lakota people during hard times.


Wojape  (Berry Pudding)

Wojape (Wo-zha-pee) Traditionally served with Fry Bread, good stuff!........ Wojape is traditonal to the Sioux and other Northern Plains Nations, and it is a very old recipe. It was usually made with fresh wild berries collected while in season and we also used dried berries, preserved for use through the winter. The berries were mixed with sugar when it became available, and also flour, or arrow root, or some type of thickener.
In modern times, Wojape, like many other things, has been adapted to the availability of ingredients, and it is still as good today as I can rememer it being when I was a girl. It is usually eaten as a dessert with Fry Bread or as as a main course maybe with a hot cup of coffee.........mmmmmmmmmm....... good stuff!

 WOJAPE (Wo zha pee)
5 lb. bag of frozen berrys (blueberry, raspberry, cherry or a bag of mixed berries)
8 cups of water
2 cups of sugar
cornstarch or arrow root

To a 5 quart pot (enamel or stainless steel) add all the berries and smash them with a potato masher. (If you are fortunate enough to have a food processor this would work fine also. However, stop just short of puree, you want don't want it to turn in to soup, you want small pieces for texture.)


Corn Meal Wasna(Lakota Candy)
To the berry mash add the water and sugar. Lightly boil for about 15 to 20 minutes or until everything is cooked. Add cornstarch that has been disolved in cold water to thicken to the desired consistency.
Serve warm and eat with Fry Bread. Simply dip the bread into the Wojape and enjoy!

Native Hawaiian

Most people who visit Hawaii want to try a luau and Hawaiian food during their stay. Contrary to popular belief, Hawaiian food is NOT a hamburger with pineapple on it, nor is it pizza with ham and pineapple, nor is it a piece of chicken with sweet pineapple sauce on it. Even though many people perceive Hawaii as the origin of pineapple, it isn't. Pineapples are originally from Brazil and are not native to Hawaii at all.


Hawaiian salt Other Names: Alaea, Alae, Hawaiian Red Salt. This Alaea Sea Salt is a traditional Hawaiian table salt used to season and preserve. A natural mineral called "Alaea" (volcanic baked red clay) is added to enrich the salt with iron oxide. This natural additive is what gives the salt its distinctive pink color. The clay imparts a subtle flavor that is said to be mellower than regular sea salt. Uses: It is the traditional and authentic seasoning for native Hawaiian dishes such as Kalua Pig, Poke and Hawaiian Jerky. Also good on prime rib and pork loin. Hawaiian Sea Salt comes in fine and coarse grain.

Lau-Lau (rhymes with cow-cow, except with an L instead of a C).  A lau lau (sometimes spelled laulau) is an authentic Hawaiian entree. It is made with exotic and delicious ingredients starting with either a pork (pork shoulder usually, not pork loin), chicken or vegetable filling, sometimes with a little bit of rich and flavorful butterfish. Each lau lau filling is then individually wrapped in 6 to 7 taro leaves, also referred to as Hawaiian spinach leaves. Once bundled in its many layers, the lau lau is firmly wrapped and tied inside 2 ti-leaves to form a pouch that seals the moisture and unique flavors of the taro leaves, fillings, and seasonings. Lau laus are pressure cooked in a steamer oven or imu (underground oven). When eaten, be sure to remove and discard the outer ti-leaves, as they are only used in the process of steaming the lau laus. They are NOT edible. Just enjoy the tender and juicy lau lau fillings and taro leaves. Just cut it open it will look like you see it here.  Generally you need to add salt and if you can you should use Hawaiian salt.

Lau Lau Variation 1


  • 6 ti leaves
  • 3 lbs boneless pork, beef or chicken
  • 1 lb salted butterfish - soaked
  • 2 teaspoons liquid smoke
  • 4 lbs frozen taro leaves - thawed and drained


Cut and discard stems from ti leaves. Wash leaves. Do not dry. Cut meat into 1 inch chunks. Rinse butterfish and remove skin. Cut into bite-sized pieces. In a large bowl, mix meat with fish with liquid smoke.
Line a large baking pan with foil. Lay 3 to 4 ti leaves in the pan. Add half of the luau (taro) leaves. Arrange meat mixture evenly on luau leaves. Put remaining luau and ti leaves on top. Cover pan tightly with foil. Bake in oven at 350°F for 3 hours.

Variation 2


  • 1/2 pound salt butterfish, rinsed several times to remove excess salt
  • 1/2 pound pork butt, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 4 boneless chicken thighs
  • 1 tablespoon Hawaiian sea salt
  • 8 leaves ti leaves
  • 1 pound taro leaves


Season fish, pork and chicken with Hawaiian sea salt. Place 2 ti leaves in an X on a flat surface for each of the 4 servings. Place 1/4 of each of the fish, pork and chicken onto the center of 3 or 4 taro leaves. Wrap securely with the taro leaves, then place each wrap on a set of ti leaves. Tie the ends of the ti leaves together with a piece of string. Place the bundles in a large steamer, and steam for 3 to 4 hours.


Manapua is Hawaiian slang for the Chinese food cha siu bau (pork-filled bun). The 19th century marked a historical period in Hawaii as thousands of immigrants from different countries came to the islands seeking work. Over 50,000 Chinese immigrants brought their customs, cultural activities and especially their ethnic foods. Food vending in the street was a common trade in the marketplace towns of China. In Hawaii, food peddlers sold a variety of delectable items especially their famous char siu bao. The peddlers would stack their foodstuffs in large cans and sling the cans by cords at each end of a pole. Hoisting the poles on their shoulders, they roamed the neighborhoods with their savory-filled buns. Char siu bao immediately became a favorite among the locals, and was given the name mea ono pua'a ("mea ono" for cake or pastry, and "pua'a for pork) over the years it became lost in traslation and is now called Ma-na-pu-a. The food peddlers today, also known as the manapua man, don't roam the streets on foot anymore. They can be found in a big truck parked at beaches, small neighborhoods, near the business districts and other places around the island. For many, eating a manapua can be nostalgic, bringing childhood memories of making a trip to the manapua man's truck. Most people are aware of the steamed variety of manapua, but there's also a baked version that is also fantastic.

Manapua (Savory Stuffed Buns)

Bun dough:
1 package dry yeast
3 tablespoons lukewarm water
2 cups warm water
1-1/2 tablespoons cooking oil or shortening
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
6 cups sifted flour
1/2 tablespoon sesame oil
1 cup water
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 pound char siu, diced (see recipe below)
Few drops red food coloring, optional

To prepare bun dough: Sprinkle yeast over 3 tablespoons water and allow to stand until yeast softens. To remaining water, add oil or shortening, sugar and salt, stirring until melted or dissolved. Cool. Add yeast mixture. Place flour in a large mixing bowl or a heavy-duty mixer and add most of the liquid. Begin kneading. Add remaining liquid to make a very heavy dough. Continue kneading or mixing until you have a smooth ball that is beginning to show signs of long strands on the outside, indicating that the gluten has fully developed.

Remove dough from bowl and rinse out bowl. Pour sesame oil into bowl, return dough and turn it around until covered with a thin layer of the oil. Cover with plastic wrap. Allow to rise until double in bulk -- about an hour in a warm room. Placing the dough in the refrigerator and allowing it to rise there, 3-6 hours, develops the flavor. Proceed with the filling or gently deflate the dough and allow it to rise for a second time, which will further enhance the flavor.

To prepare filling: In a pot, stir cornstarch, sugar and salt in water until dissolved. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add char siu and, if desired, red food coloring.

To stuff and steam buns: Heat a steamer with plenty of water. Cut 12 (3-inch) squares of waxed paper and coat 1 side with 1/2 second coat of nonstick cooking spray.

Punch down dough and divide into 12 pieces. Roll each into a ball. Flatten into a circle about 6 inches in diameter. Make the dough as thin as you can and try to keep the edges thinner than the center.

Place the circle of dough in the palm of your hand. Spoon in a couple of tablespoons of filling, cupping the dough around it. Then, with the thumb and finger of the other hand, pinch the edges of the dough as if you were making a fluted edging on a pie crust. Pinch the folds together, twisting them as you do so.

Local manapua are usually served fold-side down, and Vietnamese manapua with the twirl of dough on top. Place the completed manapua on a square of greased waxed paper. Allow to plump up into a globe with a taut exterior. Place in steamer on their squares of paper about 1 to 2 inches apart.

Cover and steam vigorously for 15 minutes. If using a metal steamer, place a folded tea towel across top of steamer, holding it in position with the lid. This will prevent steam from dropping onto manapua. If using a bamboo steamer, this is not necessary. Remove steamer from heat, let stand 5 minutes, then open. Serve hot. Makes 12 buns.

Note: To bake manapua, brush top of buns with a little canola oil and bake 20 to 25 minutes at 350 degrees.

Haupia is a traditional coconut milk-based Hawaiian dessert often found at luaus in Hawai‘i and in local confections that contain coconut. Although technically considered a pudding, the consistency of haupia closely approximates gelatin desserts and is usually served in blocks like gelatin. The traditional Hawaiian recipe for haupia calls for heated coconut milk to be mixed with ground arrowroot until the mixture thickens. Most modern recipes for haupia substitute corn starch for the arrowroot. In the typical modern recipe, diluted coconut milk, sugar, and salt is mixed with cornstarch and heated until thickened and smooth, then poured into a rectangular pan and chilled as with gelatin. Other recipes actually call for unflavored gelatin in place of the corn starch.

Haupia    Contributor: Elloha

5 Tbsp Cornstarch
4 Tbsp Sugar
1/8 tsp Salt
2 C Coconut milk
Cooking Instructions:
Make a smooth paste of the dry ingredients and 1/2 cup of coconut milk. Add remaining coconut milk and cook on low heat, stirring rapidly. Cook until clear and thick enough to coat a spoon. To avoid curdling, be sure to use low heat. Pour into a shallow pan and set in a cool place until firm.

For thick haupia, or one that will hold its shape when cut, increase the cornstarch to 2 1/2 Tbsp.

If you can't find canned coconut milk here's how to make with fresh coconut.

Coconut milk:

Pour 2 cups boiling water over 4 cups grated coconut. Let stand for 20 minutes; strain and measure coconut milk.

Dine' - aka: Navajo

Dried Corn Stew
Recipe by Elaya K Tsosie 

  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup dried corn (can substitute 1 cup dry garbanzo beans)
  • 1 pound beef stew meat
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • In saucepan, combine water and corn (or garbanzo beans); bring to boiling. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Cover; let stand several hours. Return to boiling; simmer, covered, 1/2 more than an hour if using corn or 1 hour if using garbanzo beans for this recipe. Add remaining ingredients. Simmer, covered, until tender, about 1 1/2 hours. Season to taste. Makes 4 servings.


    Cheese and Green Chili Soup
    Recipe by Elaya K Tsosie

    Fresh Green Chilies in Olive Oil
    This is the method used to prepare chilies for the Cheese and Green Chili Soup recipe that follows.

    Dip each chili in olive oil and place on a cookie sheet. Place under broiler, about 3" from heat source. Broil until chilies are slightly scorched. Turn chilies and repeat process. It will take only 3 to 4 minutes on each side. Place chilies in freezer 3 hrs. Remove and pull skin from flesh of chilies. Remove seeds and membranes. Use with any recipe calling for green chilies.


    Cheese and Green Chili Soup

    • 2 tbs. butter
    • 2 onions, diced
    • 4 cloves fresh garlic, chopped
    • 15 freshly roasted green chilies (see previous instructions) You may use 1 large can (28 ounces) roasted diced green chilies if roasting your own is not an option
    • 5 ripe tomatoes, diced
    • 6 medium white potatoes, peeled and cut into 1" cubes
    • 16 cups water
    • 2 pounds Longhorn Colby or Cheddar cheese, shredded
    • Salt to taste

    In a large soup pot, melt butter and saut‚ onions and garlic over medium heat. When onions are soft, add green chilies and tomatoes. Simmer 10 minutes, stirring every minute or so.

    Add potatoes and water. Cook over medium heat until potatoes are done, 10 to 20 minutes.

    Add cheese. On very low heat, simmer about 30 minutes.

    Add salt to taste.

    For best results, allow to cool overnight and serve the next day.

    Makes 6 servings.

    Taco Navajo (Modern)
          Yield: 6 servings

          6    Rounds of fry bread                 1 T  Lard
          1    Head of lettuce                     1 cn Green chilies
      1 1/2 lb Ground lamb                       1/2 lb Cheddar cheese
          3    Tomatoes                            1    Onion

      Grate cheese.  Shred lettuce; chop tomatoes and chilies.  Brown lamb in
      lard.  Divide onto 6 fry bread rounds.  Top with cheese, lettuce,
      tomatoes, chilies and onions.  Serve with salsa!



    Comanche Fried Corn

    45 min 30 min prep

    1 large onion, diced
    1/2 lb bacon (cooked and diced)
    8 ears corn
    1 bell pepper, diced
    1 (4 ounce) can ortega canned chilies (any heat) (optional)
    1 teaspoon garlic
    1 pinch salt and black pepper

    1. First, fry the bacon. Let it cool and tear into small pieces.
    2. Leave the grease in the pot and set aside.
    3. Shuck and wash the corn. Make sure you get all the silk.
    4. With a sharp knife, slice the kernels off of the cob. Then keep scraping until you reach the cob to get all the juice and corn.
    5. Sauté the onion in the reserved grease until they are clear.
    6. Add the corn, bacon, chiles, salt & pepper and the garlic.
    7. Simmer over a low heat and stir often so it doesn't stick.
    8. When it's heated through, drain the grease if preferred and serve.
    9. Note: This calls for fresh corn, but it's super easy to use canned or frozen


    Comanche Roast Wild Duck

    Yield: 4 servings

    2 wild mallard ducks
    ¼teaspoonrosemary leaves
    1mediumonion, cut into eighths
    1 apple, cut into eighths
    2 stalks celery, cut up
    ½cupbutter or margarine, melted
    ¼teaspoonrosemary leaves

    Heat oven to 350 degrees. Clean ducks; wash and pat dry. Stir together salt, 1/2 ts. peper and 1/4 ts. rosemary leaves; sprinkle in cavity and on outside of each duck. Place half the onion, half the apple and half the celery in each cavity. Place ducks breast-side down on rack in oppen shallow roasting pan. Roast 40 minutes. Combine butter, 1/4 ts. pepper and 1/4 ts. rosemary leaves; baste until done. Ducks are done when juices are no longer pink when meat is pricked and meat is no longer pink when cut between leg and body. Remove ducks from pan; split in half lengthwise. Discard stuffing. 4 servings.

    Comanche Stew

    5 ibs beef
    3 ibs bacon
    1/2 cups tomatos
    1/2 cups green peas
    2 pints oysters
    4 onions
    3 chili ancho
    8 ibs potatos
    |also use rabbit,game birds,squirrel.

    also use rabbit,game birds,squirrel.





    Kanuchi is a real delicacy to the Cherokees in Oklahoma! At left is a rendering of a kanuchi stump, or kanona, used for preparing kanuchi. A heavy log is hollowed out a few inches in depth. The long heavy stick is used for the pounding, and not that the large end is at the top. This is used as a weight. Kanuchi making takes a lot of effort, but sure is worth it. The instructions for the making of kanuchi follows:

    Hickory nuts, gathered in the fall are allowed to dry for a few weeks prior to preparation. The hickory nuts are cracked and the largest pieces of the shells are taken out. You can pick them out by hand or shake the pieces through a loosely woven basket. Usually, both.

    The nuts (don't worry if there are some small pieces of shell) are put in the 'bowl' of the log, and are pounded until they reach a consistency that can be formed into balls that will hold there shape, about three inches in diameter. They must be kept in a cool place; today, most people freeze them. 


    When you are ready to prepare the kanuchi for serving, put one of the balls in a sauce pan with a quart or so of water. Bring it to a boil, and the ball should dissolve into the water. Simmer about ten minutes, then strain through a sieve. This separates any of the shell that is left. It should simmer until it is about as thick as a light cream. Add two cups of hominy to each quart of kanuchi. Most cooks add some sugar or honey. It should be served hot as a soup.


    Wild Onions & Eggs

    Gathering wild onions in spring is a ritual among the Oklahoma Cherokees, as well as the other tribes who live where these wonderful plants grow. Wild onions and eggs are often frozen and kept for months so they can be eaten the rest of the year. 


    Begin with a cup of wild onions that have been cut into small pieces. Two or three tablespoons of bacon dripping are put in a skillet and warmed over medium heat. Place the chopped onions and about one fourth cup of water. Simmer while stirring until the onions are tender. You can add small amounts of water if needed, When the onions are tender, and most of the water has cooked away, add six or seven beaten eggs and scramble



    Cherokee Huckleberry Bread   
          Yield: 1 loaf

          2 c  Self-rising flour                   1 c  Milk
          1    Egg                                 1 ts Vanilla extract
          1 c  Sugar                               2 c  Berries (huckleberries or
          1    Stick of butter                          __blueberries)

      Cream eggs, butter and sugar together.  Add flour, milk, and vanilla.
      Sprinkle flour on berries to prevent them from going to the bottom.  Add
      berries to mixture.  Put in baking pan and bake in over at 350 degrees for
      approximately 40 minutes or until done.