Rachel Dimond brings us the first recipe in our new Camp Kitchen series (drumroll please) … Indian Style Lentils! This versatile recipe can be tweaked to suit your taste and simplified for lightweight hiking requirements. Served with a buttery homemade chapati cooked on the campfire, you’re guaranteed to be a dead-set camp cooking legend.
Indian Style Lentils
During my years at university I share-housed with a medical student, she was a great housemate but the thing I liked about her the most was her love for cooking. She’s of Indian heritage and hailed from the state of Gujarat where the majority of people are vegetarian.
Those years seem like a lifetime ago now but I never forgot what she taught me about cooking and over time I have bastardised the recipes she taught me in many ways. I have combined a few different recipes and made some ingredient switches to make cooking easy and came up with this particular dish that gets my pals raving every time.
Honestly it makes me a goddam camp cook legend. I have used it during car-camping journeys and hut-to-hut hikes many times. I have yet to branch it out to lightweight multi-dayers but with a bit of prep and some ingredient limitations a lot can be done with the base recipe.
Prep & Cooking Time
Camp cooking time
– 1 Tbsp oil
– 1 Tbsp mustard seeds
– 1/4 tsp asafoetida powder (Hing)- 1/2-1 medium sized white onion diced
– 1-2 garlic cloves crushed
– 2 cups red lentils
– 1-2 medium-sized tomatoes diced
– 4 cups water
– 1 tsp tumeric powder
– 2 tsp ground cumin
– 1 tsp garam masala
– 1 tsp chilli powder
– 2 tsp salt
– 50g (1 packet) coconut milk powder
– 2 Tbsp milk powder (can be omitted if you’re not a fan of milk)
– 2 cups plain flour
– 2 pinches of salt
– 1/2-2/3 cup of water
– Half a block of butter for frying (oil or ghee if you prefer)
All spices can be found at your local Indian specialty store and coconut milk powder at your local Asian specialty store. I prefer to use butter for frying the chapati because quite frankly it’s delicious and it packs well without refrigeration, (provided it isn’t mid-summer) however oil or ghee can also be used. If you don’t want to bring tomatoes along they aren’t integral to the recipe. Leaving out onion and garlic will change the taste but it will still be good and lighten your load.
– Fry pan
– Stirring spoon
– Ziploc bags
– Stove system
– Knife (for chopping onion, garlic and tomato)
– Optional: serving bowls, spatula, chopping board
It is possible to use one pot for the lentils and the chapati by cooking the chapati first but that will increase the cooking time. Alternatively don’t cook chapati but I do not advise this; it’s bloody delicious.
1) Grab a bunch of Ziploc bags or containers.
2) Put 1 Tbsp mustard seeds in a small Ziploc and put the 1/4 tsp of asafoetida powder in another. It may be worth double bagging the asfoetida and a quick Google or a sniff will show you why.
3) Spoon the rest of the spices, lentils and coconut milk powder into one large Ziploc.
Put the flour and milk powder for the chapati in a medium sized Ziploc.
The quickest way to cook this is to have one person doing the lentils and one person doing the chapati simultaneously. If you’re on your own I’d recommend cooking the lentils first and the chapati second.
1) Heat oil in the pot.
2) Once the oil is hot drop a few mustard seeds in and if they pop the oil is hot enough.
3) Pour in the rest of the mustard seeds and wait 15 seconds or so. This should allow all the mustard seeds to pop and release their flavour.4) Now add the asafoetida first and then the onion and garlic in quick succession. Stir continuously making sure the mustard seeds don’t burn.5) Once the onion is cooked through, add the contents of the Ziploc with your lentils and 4 cups of water followed by the tomato.
6) Stir so that the ingredients are combined and there are no dry spice balls floating around.7) Gently simmer for 15-20 minutes or until the lentils are cooked through. If you don’t have good heat control on your stove system, stir continuously. It will be a bit mushy but it’ll taste the same.
8) Serve in bowls or eat straight from the pot.
9) If you’re feelin’ fancy, top with coriander.
10) If you hate coriander get out of my sight and rethink your life choices.
1) Add 1/2 a cup of water to the Ziploc bag containing your flour and milk powder and combine until it forms a dough. Add more water if necessary.
2) The easier way to do this is to use a serving bowl if you have it handy. Take care not to over-mix or knead the dough as it will go tough and be hard to shape.3) After you have formed the dough let it rest for 10 minutes.
4) Once the dough has rested divide it into 8 separate pieces.
5) Using your hands pull and flatten these pieces into what passes as an appropriate shape for chapati. It doesn’t matter if you tear holes in it or it is odd shaped.6) Add a good dollop of butter the fry pan and chuck your misshapen dough in.
7) Flip them over once browned and not too crispy (or however you like it).
8) Once cooked through remove from the pan and dig into your lentils.
More deliciousness when you’re out and about…