Iain Geddes, one of Camping & Caravanning's technical team joined hundreds of outdoor enthusiasts in the Peaks for a weekend of discovery and enjoyment in the great outdoors. In his first blog he joined photography masterclass. Here he swaps his camera for a colander as he tries his hand at cooking a vegetarian curry, Guy Rope Gormet style.
You may have heard of the outdoor food writer Guyrope Gourmet, a kind-of alter-ego of writer and illustrator Josh Sutton.
He ran the Big Shakeout’s class for camp-cooking. Other than a basic shelter from the rain, or in our case shine, we really did cook in the field.
Josh set a simple challenge - to cook a hearty one-pot meal for four or more. We could use largely fresh ingredients supplemented with items that didn’t need a fridge - a perfect combination for the stripped back style of camping Alpkit promote.
Now I think I’m an okay cook but I’m used to using more than a one burner hob. In addition I prefer a grill or barbecue and a handy fridge to keep items in for several days if necessary. Josh’s challenge pushed me a little out of my comfort zone. My wife Tina being both a brownie and a guide in her youth was a little less phased by the process. But there we were, in the field, being taken through a simple vegetarian one-pot meal - a chickpea curry.
Working in pairs, Josh’s technique was clear, fun and not in the slightest patronising. As a group we all knew our knives from our pan-handles so Josh could concentrate more on the balance of flavours and timing. Much of the seasoning was dry ingredients. He kept his herbs and spices in a small metal case which radiated smells of foods of the world when opened. Most of Josh’s ingredients had a small story attached.
Fresh ingredients such as onion and potato were easily stored in camping kit as was the other primary ingredient, tinned chickpeas. This for me wasn’t a cop-out, I know from experience how long it takes to soak and cook dried chickpeas. For camping simplicity it makes sense – just remember a can opener!
While we were boiling potatoes and dicing onion, Josh had us share stories about our camping experiences and a little bit about ourselves. He teased little nuggets of wisdom from everyone and what an eclectic bunch we were, from postal workers, students and lab workers to teachers and a technical guy.
After an hour or so we’d nearly finished and while the curry was simmering and reducing down he has us make up a small ball of dough using just some flour, water and a pinch of salt. This was to make a basic chapatti. We rolled out a piece of the ball on our cutting board using the now spent chickpea tin as a rolling pin. With the pot off the hob a simple skillet was dry heated and after cooking a few minutes either side we had a flat bread to go with our curry.
The curry was so easy to do and with not using meat or dairy, did away with the need for refrigeration. The net result was fantastic, with plenty of carbs and protein for an active camping trip.
Chickpea & Potato curry (feeds 2 hungry campers)
4 waxy medium-sized potatoes (diced to 2.5cm chunks – skin on if preferred)
1 large brown onion coarsely chopped
4 large ripe tomatoes cut into wedges
1 400g can cooked chickpeas drained and rinsed (keep back the tin)
2 Tbsp cooking oil (rapeseed or similar)
Up to 1l clean water
1 Tbsp seasoning (mild Indian curry or for a different twist ras el hanout)
Salt & pepper to taste
Dried or chopped coriander
Cooking time - approx 45 minutes
This simple one-pot dish offers great taste, a filling meal for two and keeps the ingredient list to a minimum for easier travel cooking. Ras el hanout gives a north African taste that some may prefer to a typical mild Indian style. Chilli powder can be added for those wishing a little more ‘kick’.
Use a lidded pan. You could use an open pan such as a wok, but more water may be needed.
1. Heat half the oil until hot enough for an onion slice to sizzle, add the onions and carefully cook until soft without catching on the pan. Add the tomatoes and allow to cook into the onions, you should start to see a red sauce develop in the pan. Keep heat as low as possible to simmer without catching, stirring as necessary throughout.
2. Add the potatoes, chickpeas and half of the tin of water, stir and raise the heat to bring to the boil. Add the seasoning.
3. Once boiling, reduce the heat, simmer and cover. If using an open pan, keep an eye on water level, you don’t want it to go dry, keep the water level to just short of the top of the ingredients.
4. Check the potatoes are cooked. Add salt and pepper to taste.
5. Remove from the heat and stir in the fresh coriander if desired - a handful chopped and stirred in adds taste and colour to the aroma. Two teaspoons of dried will suffice as an alternative.
6. Serve in a bowl and enjoy a hearty meal with limited washing up.
For information about Alpkit, its products and the Big Shakeout festival visit its website.