Cherokee Tribal Food Distribution Program

Wild Rice, Three Ways

Wild Rice, Three Ways

Watson Harlan
Wild Rice (Manoomin) is a staple of Great Lakes native foods, and can be a very nutritious staple of your kitchen too. It is much easier to prepare than most rice, requiring simple boiling until the grains burst open, it has a much richer flavor, and is more filling. It’s much easier to think of this recipe as wild rice paired with other things.
Wasdi Diligwu: A stir fry of ramps and eggs, which are a classic Cherokee food, and using them as the flavor and seasoning for our rice, which is a nice and simple recipe to throw together for lunch, an easy dinner, and can be a side dish or a main course.
Gitaya Tsitaga Diligwu: This version requires more time and just a bit more effort as it contains three parts rather than two, but the end result is a healthy, tasty and most importantly, a native dish that makes use of everything. The dish is a sage and red pepper chicken sauté with a cherry pepper sweetened sauce. Sweet, spicy, savory and delicious when mixed right at the time you serve it. If you hunt, this is a great dish to substitute duck into, with the rich fat of the animal blending well with the cherry sauce.
Yansa Diligwu: A nice hearty meal that sticks to your ribs, is best eaten in the evening after a long day. Ground buffalo, seasoned with caramelized onions and a bit of ginger to give it some bite, served atop the rice so that the sauce can run down into, and then be absorbed by the rice. Excellent when you need comfort food, and perfect for a home dinner that will help you sleep at night without being too heavy on the stomach. Serve with your favorite vegetables for a lovely dinner. With pickled vegetables like onion or ginger, the richness compliments the brine and tang of the pickles well. Leftover meat keeps well, and can be easily reheated for later for lunch.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Cuisine Cherokee
Servings 4


  • ramps rinsed, fresh or defrosted
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup wild rice
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbsp cooking oil
  • soy sauce or salt to taste
  • ---
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup wild rice
  • ¼ cup dried cherries
  • 1 lb chicken or duck breast or thigh, boned & skinned
  • ¼ cup sugar (brown or white)
  • 2 tbsp cooking oil
  • sage
  • cayenne or chili powder
  • salt
  • chicken stock or water
  • ---
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup wild rice
  • 1 lb ground buffalo defrosted
  • 1 tbsp cooking oil vegetable or peanut
  • ½ onion or 2 wild onions diced
  • ½ can peas strained & rinsed, optional
  • garlic powder
  • ginger powder
  • brown sugar (or white)
  • soy sauce (or salt)
  • sesame seeds garnish
  • red pepper


Ramp Fried Rice Bowl (Wasdi nole Uwetsi Diligwu)

  • Cook wild rice with three cups of water per cup of rice, set to high and let boil. Drain well when finished, as this will be going into the frying pan.
  • Heat a frying pan on medium-high with a small amount of cooking oil. When hot, add ramps, and stir continuously until they begin to wilt and are fragrant.
  • In a small bowl, crack and scramble eggs. Add a pinch of salt, then pour into the frying pan, clearing the ramps out of the way. When the eggs have set, chop and stir into the ramps completely.
  • Add in the drained rice, along with your soy sauce or salt to taste, and stir until mixed and the rice has absorbed the remaining liquid in the pan.
  • Serve and enjoy.

Sage Sautéed Fowl with Pepper Cherry Sauce (Tsitaga Hawiya nole Gitaya Ugama)

  • Pour 3 cups of water and 1 cup of rice into a pot and set to high to boil. Stir occasionally to prevent rice from sticking to the pot.
  • In a small saucepan, add dried cherries and barely cover with water, set to medium-high and let boil. Stir often.
  • In a frying pan, put a small amount of oil and bring to medium heat. Cut fowl into small, bite-sized chunks. Season with sage, salt and pepper as desired. Put chicken into pan and stir as it cooks, making sure nothing sticks to the bottom.
  • Pour the sugar into the cherries while stirring slowly, until thickened. If desired, add a bit of cornstarch to thicken. Cut heat to low, and let simmer. Ideally, there should be sugar left over, but sweetening the sauce to taste is important. Add chili or cayenne to taste and stir.
  • Add stock or a bit of water to your chicken pan and cover, allowing it to steam for a minute.
  • Plate a bed of rice, top with chicken, then sauce.

Buffalo Rice Bowl (Yangsa Diligwu)

  • In a large pot, add three cups of water and wild rice, turn to high and let it come to a boil. Do not salt the water. When rice has reached a boil, simmer until soft, about 20 min. Strain off water when finished.
  • Heat frying pan on medium heat with oil. When hot, add in onions, stir occasionally until golden.
  • Add buffalo, garlic, ginger powder, and soy sauce (or salt). Stir well to cook evenly and incorporate flavors.
  • Clear a small space in the bottom of the pan, add sugar and stir, allowing it to melt into the forming sauce. Fold it into the buffalo. Add peas, cook through, and remove from heat.
  • Plate rice first and top with beef. Cover both with sauce. Garnish with a sesame seed and red chili pepper.


Each of these three dishes uses predominantly native ingredients, but the methods of preparation are modern. Each one takes a bit more than half an hour to prepare from start to finish. The three dishes these are inspired by are fried rice, soboro donburi (ground beef rice bowl) and a traditional chicken and rice bowl. By drawing from the well of traditional ingredients while using what cooking methods we have, we can make food that comforts and nourishes, helping the body and the mind.
In Cherokee medicinal theory, the body and spirit are unified parts of the whole, and damage to one can damage the other. In this way, when we don’t get good food it hurts both body and mind.
Keyword rice

Share This Recipe