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Backcountry Butternut Dhal

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Backcountry Butternut Dhal

The spices in this one mask the uninspiring nature of Minute rice. Pack some naan, and you've got a party!
Course Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine East Indian
Keyword backpacking, dairy-free, egg-free, lactose-free, no shellfish, no tree nuts, vegan, vegetarian
Servings 4 people
Calories 1217kcal


  • Dehydrator
  • Food processor


  • cups red lentils
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 4 cups water
  • 15 curry leaves available from Asian or East Indian grocers
  • 1 onion diced
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 14 oz fire roasted tomatoes canned
  • ½ tsp red chili flakes
  • 2 cups spinach stems removed, chopped into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 tsp ginger peeled and grated
  • ½ tsp cumin seed whole
  • ¼ tsp fennel seed whole
  • ¼ tsp fenugreek seed whole
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cups Minute rice
  • 8 naan
  • 3 Tbsp shredded coconut


At home:

  • Preheat an oven to 450 degrees.
  • Combine the red lentils, water, and turmeric in a pot. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer until the dhal is tender, about 20-30 minutes.
  • Peel the squash and cut into 1-inch cubes. Toss with olive oil, place on a lined cookie sheet, and roast in the oven for 40 minutes at 450 degrees.
  • While the dhal cooks, heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the seeds and curry leaves. As soon as the seeds start to pop, add the onion, garlic, and ginger. Cook until the onion is soft (it should not brown). Add the tomatoes and squash, cooked lentils, chili and salt. Cook for at least 10 minutes to allow the flavors to bend. Shortly before done, add the chopped spinach and cook until the spinach is wilted.
  • Spread the dhal onto dehydrator trays lined with nonstick sheets or parchment paper. Dehydrate at 145 degrees for 8-10 hours until totally dry. If you'd like, put the dehydrated dhal in a food processor and pulse a few times to break it up a bit. You don't want powder; just rough it up a bit. This helps with rehydration in the field. Store in zipper lock bag in the freezer.

In the field:

  • Add the dried dhal, shredded coconut, and minute rice to a pot and cover with water. Bring the water to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for 5 minutes or until the rice is cooked.
  • Warm the naan near a campfire or toast on a skillet. Store in large, lidded plastic bowl.
  • Serve hot dhal with warm naan. Smile.


Just look at the calorie count on this one! If you’ve put in the miles, you deserve this one.


Calories: 1217kcal | Carbohydrates: 199g | Protein: 40g | Fat: 26g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 20mg | Sodium: 2481mg | Potassium: 726mg | Fiber: 24g | Sugar: 15g | Vitamin A: 2045IU | Vitamin C: 86mg | Calcium: 282mg | Iron: 9mg

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