Saturday, July 3, 2010

Cherokee Grape Dumplings

A few weeks ago, a fellow food blogger, Casey from Eating, Gardening & Living in Bulgaria, asked bloggers to volunteer to participant in an event "America Day". Food bloggers were supposed to share recipes of foods they think defines America, which is a good question. What is American cuisine? The United States is such a melting pot it's difficult to separate foreign cuisine from original. However, only one cuisine is truly authentic: Native American.

Being part Cherokee from my great-grandparents, I think maintaining the original history of native peoples to this land is very important. So much Native American history was lost that it's imperative we continue to learn from the tribes and their cultures. They are the people who knew how to cultivate food on this soil, who learned the patterns of animals and wild game, and who first taught foreigners how to survive here. Although I did not grow up in a tribe, I do have several Cherokee "cookbooks" and know how to make many traditional foods.

This is a great time of year to try a Cherokee recipe since it's the season for the Green Corn Ceremony to celebrate the ripening of the corn. This ceremony is the second of six for the tribe every year; however, I thought I'd share a simple, modernized recipe: Grape Dumplings. This dessert is usually made in the fall from wild possum grapes that grow along creeks in the woods, but grape juice can be used as well to enjoy year round. The closest equivalent to compare this dessert to is a deconstructed cobbler. It's updated to make preparation easier, although I'd love to share the original recipe one day.

Grape Dumplings
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp turbinado
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1 tbsp coconut oil
2 1/4 cups grape juice, divided

Mix dry ingredients together, then add the coconut oil. Next stir in 1/4 cup grape juice. Roll the dough out to 1/4" thick and cut into 1/2" strips (you can also make pea size balls instead of strips).

Bring 2 cups grape juice to a low boil and add the strips, cooking for 10 - 12 min and stirring occasionally. Grape dumplings can be served with or without the condensed grape juice.

~Adapted from Cherokee recipes.

This photo shows how thick the dessert really gets!


  1. Definitely sounds different!

  2. What an interesting dish! I made a Native American inspired one, but nothing as authentic as this. I'd love to try it!

  3. Sweet - grapes are so good for you too.

  4. This looks amazing! I don't know anything about native american cuisine, but you've inspired me to start learning!

  5. Looks wonderful...Very fascinating dish:)

  6. Wow, what a gem! I never really thought about authentic Native American recipes and have never ran across a Cherokee one. I'm sure recipes reflect the available ingredients--it'd be so interesting to look a recipes from across the country. I'll have to try this one.

  7. Definitely is something interesting and unique! Thanks for sharing!

  8. Having only had the chance to enjoy this dish once, I can say it is my all time favorite Native American dish. If you don't like overly sweet things this dish is perfect. 10/10