Plate of tamales wrapped in corn husks with bowl of sauce on the side
Cherokee Bean Bread Is A Boiled Delicacy Filled With Importance
While you’re probably familiar with the Mexican tamale, you may not know of its close cousin, Cherokee bean bread, also known as "tuya asuyi gadu."
Like tamales, Cherokee bean bread features a corn flour dough made from ground hominy that is wrapped, sometimes in corn husks, and steamed to finish.
Bean bread is unique in that cooked beans and their cooking broth are added to the ground hominy. This resulting soft bread is then served alongside stews.
Before wheat was introduced to North America, native peoples relied on corn, creating foods like bean bread, Mayan and Aztec tamales, and Chickasaw banaha.
In Cherokee, corn is named "selu" after the First Woman of myth. After Selu sacrificed herself, corn grew from her blood, making corn a vital part of Cherokee culture and cuisine.
To make bean bread, cook the beans and add them and the cooking liquid to masa harina corn flour to create a dough. Don't add salt, or the dough might turn out crumbly.
If you want, you can add beaten egg, honey, shortening, or milk to your dough. Form the dough into 3-inch balls, flatten them out, and wrap them in corn husks.
Steam or boil your bean bread for 45 minutes to an hour, then serve it as an accompaniment to an autumnal stew or a corn- and tomatillo-based pozole verde soup.