What is Piki?


Piki bread is also known as Indian paper bread. It is a traditional Hopi bread considered complicated to make, in part due to the difficulty of acquiring the necessary ingredients. Piki’s ingredients include juniper ash, blue cornmeal and sunflower oil. Although blue-gray bread is also made by the Pueblo people of New Mexico, the bread is not widely found outside the Arizona area.

The hardest ingredient to acquire for this Hopi version of a tortilla is juniper ash. It’s the ash left behind by a burning juniper tree, so the most direct way to get the ingredient is to burn the tree and get the ash. Less traditional recipes, such as those that call for the ashes of various other plants, are available for those who really want to make bread. A Mexican tortilla flour known as masa harina is also used in some recipes as a substitute. The best place to get it, however, is at an authentic Hopi restaurant.

Cornflower flour and sunflower oil can be purchased at some specialty food stores, as well as online. To make bread, the ash must first be boiled in water and then strained. It is then mixed with the blue cornmeal and cooled before being made into bread. The flour layer should be spread very thinly over a cooking instrument, such as a frying pan. The traditional method is to stretch the blue dough over a hot stone, such as a slab of shale.

When the dough is too thick, it doesn’t cook properly. Once very thin, it is cooked for a short time before being rolled into a long tamale mold and served. While many people can use oil to cook bread, another traditional way of making piki is to coat the cooking instrument with the fat of the animal being served with the meal. Watermelon seeds were also used to create the oil.

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If using fresh blue corn in the recipe, it will need to be ground before cooking. The resulting bread is less than a loaf of bread as it is a crumbly corn-flavored treat. It is well known in western states for its melt-in-your-mouth quality. It is also a very familiar and tradition-laden food. Hopi women once passed their knowledge of piki-making to their daughters, along with their kitchen stones.

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