Campfire Curry

  Campfire Curry

Campfire Curry

This is my second attempt at documenting my campfire cookery. The dish is a little ambitious but worth the effort as there is nothing better than curry made from scratch. This particular recipe is loosely based on Pat Chapman's pragmatically named, yet delicious – "Medium Curry, Restaurant Style"  from "The Indian Restaurant Cookbook," published in 1984. Chapman is, in my opinion, one of the leading authors of Indian cookbooks and a champion of the English restaurant style of curry.

 Finished Curry

Finished Curry

Campfire Curry, Restaurant Style

The beauty of this dish is that all of the more complicated components can be made in advance; the spices can be mixed and a simple onion purée can be made at home before you head out to camp.

Onion Purée

Roughly chop 10 onions, 20 large garlic cloves and 100g of fresh ginger and lightly fry in 300ml of vegetable oil over a light heat. This should take about 15 minutes; they should turn translucent but not brown. Purée the fried mixture and let cool, then fry for another 15 minutes with another 300ml of vegetable oil. This will make 10 cups of purée, which can be frozen for future curries.


1.4 kg skinned chicken cut into 3cm cubes (not just breast, make sure to use some thighs for more flavor) 2 cups of onion purée, brought from home (see above) 2 tbsp. tomato purée

Spices 1, mix this at home 2 tsp. ground cumin 2 tsp. ground coriander 2 tsp. turmeric 2 tsp. chilli powder (or more depending on how hot you like it) 2 tsp. ground ginger 2 tsp. garlic powder

2 tsp. garam masala


This is a baked curry so you will need a Dutch oven and a good bed of coals for a long slow cook. Build the fire big and hot and let it burn down to good cooking coals.

  1. Heat your Dutch oven to medium hot, add onion purée and fry until it is hot, add extra oil if you think it is sticking
  2. While the onion is frying mix a little water with spice mix 1 to make a paste
  3. Add this paste to the heated onions and give it a vigorous stir, making sure it doesn't stick, take it off the heat if it's getting too hot. Cook for a good five minutes - the goal is to remove all the water from the spices
  4. Add the chicken and the tomato and mix really well coating all the chicken
  5. Put on the Dutch oven lid and bake for 45 minutes at a medium heat (375°F, 190°C). I cannot help giving it a look every 15 minutes but if you feel you have the heat just right then leave it longer. This should be a dry-ish curry but if you feel it is going to burn add a little water.
  6. After 45 minutes add the garam masala and cook for another 10 minutes
  7. Serve with rice and flat breads.

The curry was spicy and rich, with tender chunks of chicken and enough sauce to mix with the rice. I've tried this dish at home with lamb, which was delicious, but the fire smoke and the outdoor surroundings certainly added new level of flavour to the curry.

The "The Indian Restaurant Cookbook" appears to be out of print now. It's not too hard to come by a second hand copy and is worth snapping up if you find it.

Posted on June 4, 2013 and filed under Recipe.