Hiking Food – How to dry a curry

Our next hike is into the Walls of Jerusalem in Tasmania for a three nighter with a small party of friends. It is planned as a relaxed, pre Christmas trip, where the distances are short and we will be base camping for two nights. This will allow us to take some nice food and maybe a glass or two of wine or muscat as a treat.

There are seven of us so we have decided to do our own food in couples and a three. This is because the hiking cooking pots are quite small so a meal for more than 3 is difficult to fit in the pot.

We are planning on having curry one night so  we purchased a Daal Makhani (mixed lentils, butter, cream and spices) and a Chicken Korma (creamy sauce garmished with fresh coriander and almond flakes) while we were out for dinner. Today we have been drying them in our Fowlers Vacola Ultimate Dehydrator. Fowlers don’t seem to have a website, but these units are readily available in “large department stores” and on the web.

The beauty of this unit is that it has fruit leather trays. This allows any moist/ runny curry to be spread out evenly for drying. We have four trays with 3 fruit leather trays so 3 different meals can be dried at once.


Preparation

The chicken in the curry was made from thigh meat. It is basically a sauce with pieces of chicken floating around. Through previous experience we know that the chicken (read any meat here) must be diced finely to dry OK , BUT MORE IMPORTANTLY to rehydrate properly.

So, (I suggest using kitchen gloves here) I diced the cooked chicken pieces from the curry into pieces that were no bigger that 1.5 cm * 1 cm * 0.5 cm. Yes, that small. I then remixed the chicken into the sauce and spread it evenly on the drying tray.

The Daal, (pictured above ) which consists of lentils and kidney beans in a curry sauce is REALLY easy. All that was required was spreading on the tray as the lentils and other beans in it are quite small.

Drying the Curry
The drying process is simple. Just let the dryer blast away with hot air and remember to stir the curry and move it around on the tray every 2 hrs or so. This is because the pieces tend to dry on the outside and ball into little clumps. Moving it around , breaks up the clumps and allows the dryer to do its stuff.

The process takes about 10 hrs + (because there was so much liquid in the curry sauce) so I always try and start it early in the morning on a day we plan to be home. If you forget you have left it on, it does not really burn, just goes REALLY crunchy!


To the right is a picture of the finished product, bagged up and ready to go. The consistancy of the chicken when it is dried correctly is like soft rubber. Because there was a lot of oil in the curry, the texture is a bit “slimy”, so rubberised slime MAY be the best way to describe it! Keep it refrigerated until you head off and it should keep well. We usually dry food about one week before we go so between drying and eating, the time never exceeds 2 weeks.

Rehydration
Complicated process here!! We have discovered the best way to rehydrate the meal is, as soon as we hit our overnight camp site, we boil the billy and have a cuppa. We use the excess boiling water and cover the dried meal in the cooking pot. We put the lid on the pot and leave it sit for about an hour stirring occasionally. As the meal rehydrates , we add more water, stirring to ensure all the dried meal gets access to water. If the rehydtrating process is slow, or we want to eat, we gently heat the meal, stirring and adding water as required. We try and allow at least an hour for rehydration, two is better. Being gentle is the solution, not boiling the meal while it is rehydrating, but gently heating it to allow full hydration.

We will serve this with some “Continental” rice (whatever flavour works for you). It is so easy to cook, light, filling and cheap.

This type of hiking food is quick to prepare, very tasty and an easy meal. Will go down well with a red!

If you enjoyed this old article and want more specific information  on how to dehydrate a curry (or any other meal) – we have since released a recipe book and guide called Food to Go where it is explained in a step by step process with pictures.

Comments

  1. Anonymous says

    Great site, I was feeling a bit concerned about what kind of food I could take hiking since having to go on a gluten free diet.
    With this information I know now I can create my gluten free meals like this curry and dehydrate it.

  2. maryw says

    What works well for rehydrating is to add water a few hours ahead of time and toss it in your pack. I use a plastic container with a screw top. You're carrying a bit more weight but you're also not cooking for an hour. I've even had success doing this without a stove. Good for high mileage trips.

  3. Frank and Sue says

    You are right Mary,
    Thanks for the comment. We usually arrive early so just heat up some water and let it soak while we explore wherever we are.
    Our daughter Clare usually rehydrates from lunchtime in a Nalgeane bottle.
    Eother way works well depending on circumstance.
    Enjoy your trip.
    Frank

    • Frank says

      Hi Graeme,
      Have not used the cozy. I think it is a bit of extra stuff you need to carry. Some people make a “pot holder” out of the blue matting (EVA) that just fits their pot. (with a lid that slots in)
      We just rehydrate and gently heat when we want to eat. (keep an eye on it burning the bottom of the pot)
      Others just wrap up their pot with a tshirt or piece of clothing to keep it warm.

      Thanks for the heads up about the link. I fixed it in the Overland Track book but forgot to sort it on this post. It is now working , I hope!
      Frank

  4. jim says

    so how long can this dehydrated curry last before going rancid? will i be able to dehydrate my homemade korma which consists of yogurt, cocconut fat, and cocconut milk?

    • Frank says

      Hi Jim,
      We usually keep the dehydrated curry refrigerated or frozen until we are ready for the trip. This could be 2-4 weeks. It is then fine during the trip for at least 2 weeks. Our ebook, Food to Go, goes over it step by step and explains in detail how to make sure the meal is correctly dehydrated. We have never had a meal go rancid as they do last a long time.
      Hope that helps

      Frank

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