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A Backcountry Camping Recipe you MUST try!

by Jill Zeppa, Director of Admissions

When you think of backcountry food, most people think of dry, flavourless meals that are far from fresh. On Outward Bound Canada’s backcountry trips across the country, we put tremendous effort into packing meals that will not only satisfy and provide adequate calories for the day, but will also become a daily highlight which all of our participants will go home raving about!

This one is my favourite recipe, great for any paddling trip! Feel free to try it while backpacking as wellthat is, if you’re up for carrying a few heavy cans. 

Before you get started on this meal, don’t forget about a few key campsite cooking must-dos: 

Create a sanitary kitchen space with clean utensils, and well-defined boundaries (like a tarp or picnic table), equipped with clean dishes and clean hands.

1. No dirt allowed in the kitchen!
When you’re camping, a solid “spice rack” can make or break your tasty meals!
3. Aim to pack the right amount of food: not too much prevents waste, not too little means your group is perfectly satisfied.

For this delicious, vegan campsite chickpea curry, you’ll need… 

  • 4 tsp oil (olive, coconut, whatever you’re packing!)
  • 1 large white or yellow onion
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 large sweet potato
  • 1 can diced tomatoes (798ml)
  • 1 can chickpeas (540ml)
  • 1 can coconut milk (398ml)
  • (your choice!) white rice (½ cup/person) for a vegan option OR (2 cups/person) egg noodles
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp ginger (ground) OR 4 tsp ginger (fresh, grated)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • (if you have the luxury of fresh) spinach (1 cup/person)  and cilantro (for garnish)

Here’s how to make it…

  • Mince your onion and garlic, and begin to brown on low-medium heat with 2 tbsp of your oil in a large pot over the fire or camp stove, stirring occasionally. 
  • Once nicely caramelized, add your peeled and diced sweet potato and another 2tbsp oil. Cover and simmer for about 5 mins, continuing to stir occasionally.
  • Add your full cans of diced tomatoes (with juices!), coconut milk and chickpeas (drained and rinsed) and simmer for about 20 minutes, and stir every 2-3 minutes. 
  • In a separate pot, boil water to cook up your rice / egg noodles.
  • Once your sweet potatoes and chickpeas are getting soft, add in your spices: turmeric, coriander, ginger. (Add more to taste, as you like!)
  • Using a utensil, smash-mash up some of the curry so that it’s a bit of a chunky sauce topping for your rice/noodles. 
  • Serve your rice/noodles (on a bed of spinach if desired) and top with a big scoop of curry. (Garnish with cilantro if desired). Add salt and pepper to taste. 

I first heard about this recipe from a friend who was heading out on a week-long canoe trip in Temagami and I gave it a try shortly after. Now it’s not only a campsite staple for me, but also a go-to recipe at home. The curry also freezes well, so you can make it beforehand, portion it out and bring it frozen on your trip to heat up once defrosted! Happy cooking!