6 Spicy Recipes for Winter Camping


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Everyone has their own tricks for feeling warm on a cold winter camping trip. Here’s our favorite: Eat something spicy. While it won’t actually raise your body temperature (pack the right layers) the warm tingle of eating something with a kick will always help us feel toasty in freezing temps. We’ve collected 6 of our favorite spicy backpacking recipes from the archive; try these for a boost when the forecast is chilly. —The Editors

Masman Curry

Lemongrass and peanuts accent this creamy dish.

  • 1 tablespoon Masman curry paste (contains lemongrass, garlic, cumin)
  • 1/2 cup matchstick-cut carrots
  • 1/2 medium onion, peeled
  • 1 1.75-oz. pouch powdered coconut cream (or 1 cup canned coconut milk)
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup crushed peanuts
  • 1 7-oz. pouch pre-cooked chicken breast; vegetarian option: 1 14-oz. can chickpeas
  • 1 4-oz. pouch instant mashed potatoes

Note: Find powdered coconut cream at Asian or Indian groceries.

At Home: Combine brown sugar and crushed peanuts in a zip-top bag. Transfer chickpeas in separate zip-top bag.

In Camp: Prepare potatoes according to the package directions; then set aside. Thinly slice onion. In a separate pot, combine curry, coconut powder, and 1 cup water and bring to a boil. Add carrots and onion and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes. Add sugar, nuts, and chicken (or chickpeas), and cook until sugar is dissolved and everything is hot. Spread over potatoes. Serves 2.

Indian Red Curry

Chili peppers give this meal a pungent kick.

2 tablespoons tomato paste (from tube)

  • 2 tablespoons mild curry paste (try Patak’s)
  • 1 8-oz. container plain yogurt
  • 1 7-oz. pouch pre-cooked chicken breast; vegetarian option: 1 (14 oz.) can chickpeas
  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds or cashews
  • 2 oz. ginger
  • 1 1/2 cups instant rice

In Camp: Boil 1 1/2 cups water, stir in rice, cover, and set aside. Finely grate ginger and set aside. In separate pot, combine tomato paste, curry, and yogurt, and bring to a boil. Add chicken (or chickpeas) and cook, while stirring, till heated through. Serve over instant rice and top with nuts. Serves 2.

Note: An unopened container of yogurt stays fresh for 1 to 2 days on the trail in temps below 70°F.

Caribbean Pineapple Curry

Give your camp dinner a tropical flair.

  • 1 jalapeño, seeded and sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1 cup red bell pepper, julienned
  • 1/2 onion, peeled
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon generic curry powder
  • 1 7-oz. pouch pre-cooked chicken breast (optional)
  • 1 mini bottle of rum
  • 1 snack container (4 oz.) pineapple chunks
  • 1 1/2 cups instant rice

At Home: Combine jalapeno and garlic in a zip-top bag.

In Camp: Add rum to chicken pouch and set aside to marinate. Slice garlic and onion. Boil 1 1/2 cups water, stir in rice, then cover. In a pot, heat oil and fry jalapeno and garlic for 30 seconds. Add onion, pepper, and curry. Stir for 3 minutes or until veggies soften. Add pineapple, rum, and chicken (if using) and cook till heated through. Pour over rice. Serves 2.

Thai Green Curry

This sweet-tasting dish is more fragrant than hot.

  • 2 teaspoons green curry paste
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup matchstick-cut carrots
  • 1/2 small onion, peeled
  • 1 1.75-oz. pouch powdered coconut cream (or 1 cup canned coconut milk)
  • 2 3.5-oz. pouches pre-cooked shrimp; vegetarian option: 1 12-oz. package firm tofu
  • 1/2 lime (optional)
  • 1/4 cup cilantro (optional)
  • 6 oz. rice noodles or linguine

In Camp: Cook noodles according to directions, drain, and set aside. Thinly slice onion, and chop tofu (if using) into 1-inch cubes. In a separate pot, combine curry, sugar, coconut powder, and 1 cup water (or canned milk) and bring to boil. Add carrots and onion, and cook (while stirring) for 3 minutes. Stir in shrimp (or tofu) and cook till heated through; serve over noodles and add lime or cilantro if desired. Serves 2.

Mountain Mulligatawny

This classic East Indian rice-and-chicken soup is perfect on a frigid day.

  • 6 cups water
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped dried apple
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped sun-dried tomato
  • 2 tablespoons instant chicken bouillon
  • 1 tablespoon dried onion flakes
  • 1 teaspoon dried minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons hot or mild curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seed
  • 2 tablespoons dried parsley
  • 1 cup instant brown rice
  • 1 pouch chicken breast pieces (7 oz.)

At home: Chop apples and tomatoes. Place in zipper-lock bag with bouillon, onion flakes, and garlic. Place brown rice in a separate zipper-lock bag with curry powder, coriander, cumin seed, and parsley.

In camp: Bring water to a boil in a medium pot and stir in contents of apple/tomato bag. Cook for 3 minutes. Add contents of rice bag. Continue cooking 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add chicken, breaking up meat with a spoon, and simmer 3 minutes. Remove pot from heat to cool down. This thick soup (not much broth) serves 3.

Hot & Sour Soba Seafood Soup

Noodles are perfect comfort food, no matter the temperature.

  • 4 1/2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup seasoned rice vinegar
  • 3 cubes Knorr fish bouillon
  • 1 ounce dried mushrooms (Asian markets offer various varieties)
  • 1 bundle buckwheat soba noodles (4 oz.)
  • 2 teaspoons dried minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon dried chopped chives
  • 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
  • 4 pouches crab or imitation crab (3.53 oz. each), or 2 cans (6 oz. each)

In camp: Bring water and vinegar to a boil in a medium pot. Add bouillon and stir to dissolve. Add mushrooms, garlic, chives, and crushed pepper; cook for 2 minutes. Break soba noodles in half, add to pot, and continue cooking 5 minutes. Stir in crab, undrained, and cook for another 2 minutes. Makes 3 generous servings.


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