Most cultures have some form of easy bread as a staple part of their cuisine, and the Mi’kmaq community of Atlantic Canada is no exception.
Mi’kmaq bread is called luskinikn (loo-skin-e-gen) – literally ‘four cents’ – because it costs so little to make.
The basic recipe for luskinikn – a rustic, quick and easy bread usually topped with butter, jam or molasses – appears to have changed little over time.
When asked about the history of the bread, community elders all gave similar answers: “This is the way we’ve always made it.”
Interestingly, the recipe persists in First Nations across the country. Although further west it tends to go by the Gaelic name ‘bannock’, the method and ingredients are very similar.
The simplicity of the bread – just five staple ingredients and no kneading – could be one reason why this widespread and ancient recipe is still popular today.
When it comes to variety, luskinikn – or luski as it’s commonly known – is as versatile as they come. Cooks often add their own twists to the basic mix of flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, and water (some include milk, berries, or other flavorings). It can be baked in the oven, pan-fried in oil, or covered in sand and buried under embers.
And it makes a great campsite treat – just pre-mix the dry ingredients and carry a large batch with you in a zippered bag. At the campsite, scoop out a cup, add water, and roast on a stick over the fire.
Just as people evolve and change over time, so do cultures and cuisines. Mi’kmaq bread has been influenced by European settlers, as well as by other First Nations. For example, Mi’kmaq people enjoy Indian tacos, a clear influence from another tribe, the Navajo.
Instead of the crispy taco shells or soft, round tortillas found in supermarkets, Mi’kmaq people use a deep-fried bread (Navajo fry bread), which is then topped with the usual suspects: lettuce, tomatoes, chili, cheese, and salsa. These Indian tacos are usually sold during the summer months at community gatherings such as pow wows.
Luski, bannock, fry bread, four cents … No matter how you mix it, cook it, or eat it, this easy bread can be a delicious part of the modern diet.
2 cups flour
2 Tbsp baking powder
2 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp oil
1 cup water (or 1/2 cup milk and 1/2 cup water)
1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
2. Grease a baking dish with butter or cooking spray.
3. Mix the ingredients in a bowl.
4. Place the dough in the baking dish. Flatten to ensure it is evenly spread throughout the dish.
5. Bake for 20-25 mins, or until golden brown on top.
6. Transfer to a serving plate and break apart by hand (cutting with a knife will make the hot luski gooey). Serve with honey, molasses or golden syrup.
Mi’kmaq Mama dedicates her writings to sharing her culture and lifestyle with curious readers. She encourages others to join her in living a greener, more sustainable lifestyle.