Chigust’ei

The Apache name for this bread can be translated as "cooked on embers" or it can be tsegust’ei which would mean "cooked on a rock." When cooked in homes now it is more often cooked on a griddle than over an open fire on a wire mesh grille. Many tribes gathered seeds, ground them into flour, made dough, shaped the dough into thin flat disks and cooked bread like that. When the Spanish saw Indians in Mexico make bread like this, they called the bread tortillas. Apaches would gather seeds of sunflowers or of wild grasses to grind to make bread. Sometimes corn or wheat was available for making bread. During the reservation period, wheat flour was often available. The following recipe makes what is now referred to as chigustei. It has become traditional to serve with boiled meat.

Chigust’ei

Blend shortening with dry ingredients. Add water. Mix well, knead lightly. Let dough rest, covered, in a warm place for at least 30 minutes. Divide dough into 6 to 8 pieces. Keep the dough covered until it is used. Take a piece of dough, press it flat, and roll it into a flat circle no more than 1/4 inch thick and cook it on a non-stick griddle over medium high heat turning the bread once. They should have dark speckles on one side and dark spots on the other. Serve them warm. They are often torn into pieces and dropped into the broth with the boiled meat

Boiled Meat

Place ingredients in a large pot. Bring to a boil over medium heat. This may take about 30 minutes to boil. Watch carefully as it foams up and might overflow. Reduce heat to simmer and stir down the foam for a few minutes until it stays down. The foam can be shimmed off if you prefer. Cover and let simmer for 90 minutes. Serve a few pieces of meat in a bowl of broth. To remove the fat, allow to cool, chill, and lift off the hardened fat from the surface. Reheat to serve. Common variations: deer meat can be substituted for beef. Black pepper, red pepper, green chili or chunks of onion can be added while cooking for seasoning. Chunks of peeled potato or a handful of rice (from reservation rations) can be added in the last 30 minutes of cooking.

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