Parāoa Parai: Best Fry Bread Recipe

Parāoa Parai (Fry Bread) has come to be a much-loved Māori delicacy that is often served at hākari (feasts) on the marae, at Matariki celebrations, or even on a Sunday afternoon on the side of boil up or a roast dinner. 

Although there is constant debate around the name of these crunchy clouds of heaven (Fry Bread vs Fried Bread), we can all agree that they are dangerously delicious.

Here is a no-fail recipe that will get you perfect results every time! Crispy and golden brown on the outside, and perfectly fluffy on the inside. This recipe by Maimoa Creative was shared just before the August lockdown 2021 in Aotearoa — and since then thousands of kiwis have tried and tested it and given the big tick of approval! Trust me, you'll want to save this recipe to your favourites, it's a winner!

You can also purchase a tea towel with this very recipe here.

fry bread flat lay

Ingredients:

Makes: 20-25
  • ¾ cup boiling Water
  • 1 cup chilled Milk*
  • 1 Tbspn Dried Active Yeast
  • 1 Tbspn Sugar
  • 4 Tbspn Oil**
  • 1 ½ tsp Salt
  • 4-4 ½ cups Flour***
  • Oil for frying

* Milk: regular cows milk, but you can substitute with other milks if dairy free.
** Oil: canola/vegetable oil, but you substitute with other oils (e.g. coconut oil) or melted butter.
*** Flour: high grade white flour, but you could swap out for a gluten free flour mix if for a gf version.

Method:

Combine the boiling water and chilled milk in a large bowl. Test temperature with finger to make sure it’s not too hot (will kill yeast), or too cold (yeast won’t activate). Add sugar, oil, and yeast, and stir. Set aside in a warm part of the kitchen for 10-15 minutes until bubbling/sponge like from yeast activating. 

Add 4 cups of flour and the salt. Fold together gently, being careful not to overmix. Add more flour if it’s still too sticky (usually another ½ cup is required). Gently knead together for 15 seconds into a ball, then leave in bowl and cover with a tea towel. Leave to proof in a warm part of the kitchen until double in size (approx 1 hour).

Remove risen dough from the bowl onto a lightly oiled or floured bench. Gently pat the dough out to a rectangle (2cm thickness) and cut into 6cmx6cm squares. Should make approx 24 pieces. Spread out the cut pieces on an oiled or floured surface, cover with a tea towel and leave to proof for another 15 minutes.
TIP: You can roll the edge of a dinner plate along the dough to cut/divide instead of a knife. This will seal the edges and give a more 'pillow-like' outcome.

While waiting for dough to proof, heat a medium size pot of oil to 165°C. Make it deep enough so that the dough won’t be touching the base and can float while cooking. 
TIP: To check temperature is hot enough, place end of a wooden spoon in the oil. If it bubbles, the oil is ready. Oil is too hot if the dough goes golden brown too fast and the inside is still doughy/uncooked.

Gently place dough in the hot oil in batches of 4-5 (or however many fit in your pot), and cook until golden brown, approx. 30 seconds per side. Once cooked, remove from oil and drain on a paper towel. Allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving.

fry bread dough

Chef's notes:

Eating tips

Eat fresh. Delicious as is, or you can add butter, golden syrup, jam, (or whatever topping you want). Also great on the side of boil up/roast/dinner. You can even make them into gourmet burgers! If you happen to have any leftovers the next day (which is very rare!), cut them in half and lightly toast to make the best Māori-style crumpets 🤤

Dough not rising?

Don’t forget to check if your yeast is expired! Your dough may not rise as well if you use expired yeast. Otherwise it could do with the temperature of your water/milk mix, or not proofing in a warm enough place.

Holey fry bread?

If your fry bread have big pockets of air in them once fried, then perhaps the dough isn't rising long enough, or rising too fast (in too warm a spot).

Sharing is caring

Why not make a double batch and drop some off to your neighbours/whānau/friends to share the love.

Don’t forget to tag us @maimoa.creative when you give this recipe a crack — we love seeing how they all turn out!

Parāoa Parai: Best Fry Bread Recipe