Indian cuisine is so delicious - all those earthy flavors with a hint of spiciness. When I’m out hiking a long trail any time I see a town that has an Indian restaraunt I’m spending my days and nights dreaming of that food! When I was hiking the AT in 2012 one of my favorite “Treat Yo’ Self” meals came in the form of the ready-to-eat India Kitchens meals. Granted, they’re heavy and you have to eat them basically your first night out of town, it always made me smile to see hikers turn their heads to see where that delicious smell was coming from. You’d be the most popular hiker in camp when you had Indian-style meals! Since India Kitchens is heavy and a bit cost prohibitive, I set out to make my own Dal for backpacking. Below is my favorite dal recipe, dehydrated and packed up for a backpacking trip!
Dal with Rice - 1 serving
1/3 cup dehydrated jasmine rice (I cook mine in veggie stock before drying)
1/3 cup dehydrated dal (see below)
1/4 cup mixed dehydrated mushrooms, eggplant, and bell pepper
2 tbsp chopped cashews
2 tbsp currents (or raisins)
At home: Add all ingredients to a zip top bag and mix well.
On trail: Add contents of the bag to your cook pot and cover with water. Bring meal to a boil, stirring occasionally to avoid sticking. Once the meal boils, remove from heat and set aside for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to meld the flavors.
My favorite dal recipe:
2 Tbsp of butter or ghee
1 small onion, diced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp whole cumin seeds (crushed to release flavor)
1 Tbsp of Garam Masala
1 tsp turmeric
2 tsp salt (maybe more)
2 tsp curry powder
2 serrano chiles, chopped small (seeds removed if you wish)
2 cups of red lentils
3 cups (approximately) of chicken or veggie broth
1 can of diced tomatoes
Sautee the onion in the butter/ghee until slightly caramelized. Then, add in your garlic, chiles, and spices. Cook until very fragrant, only about 1-2 minutes. Add your lentils and your stock, covering the contents of your pot about half an inch or so. Cook until your lentils are halfway cooked, soft outside but still firm in the middle. Add in your tomatoes and cook down until lentils are soft. Taste for saltiness and add salt to your liking. Let your mixture cool to room temperature before adding to food processor or blender to puree.
To dehydrate your dal, spread the mixture in a thin, even layer on a fruit leather sheet or parchment paper. Dry in your dehydrator on 135 degrees until it begins to crack and dry, resembling chalk.