Tastes of the Southwest: Hopi piki and Navajo kneel down breads

A Piki stone with Native American corn

A Piki stone with Native American corn

Ron and Vicki Sullivan

Have you ever tasted Hopi piki bread or Navajo kneel down bread? You are in for a treat. If you live in Quail Creek there are two events in February and March that just might arouse your curiosity and ignite your taste buds.

A short ride from Sahuarita is the Arizona State Museum. Located on the University of Arizona’s campus, each year the museum hosts the annual Southwest Indian Art Fair. This year’s event is scheduled for February 21 and 22.

The second opportunity will be at the 56th annual Heard Museum Guild Indian Fair and Market on March 1 and 2 in Phoenix.

In the past, both venues have offered authentic Native American foods including Hopi piki bread and Navajo kneel down bread. Posole and Navajo tacos may be other taste tempting items on the menus.

Piki bread is a traditional staple of the Hopi people. The dry, thin rolled bread  truly melts in your mouth and tastes delicious. A variety of dips, including hummus, give it even more zest. The technique used to make the featherweight thin bread is difficult to master and has been passed down from mothers to daughters for generations. Piki takes several days to make from scratch. It is always available at the Hopi Mesas in northern Arizona.

Also known as Navajo tamales, kneel down bread is baked in a corn husk. It used to be made in bulk after the corn harvest and stored over the winter like a hard cracker. Modern recipes utilize a hand grinder or food processor and an indoor oven as well as an underground outdoor fire. Kneel down bread is sometimes sold by vendors at local Native American flea markets and is readily available throughout the Navajo Nation.

Vicki and Ron Sullivan reside in Quail Creek. They publish articles about Native American and Mexican culture.