Maharajah Camp Curry Recipe

This dish is reminiscent of the Maharajah style recipes of the sub continent. Whole spices and root vegetables are seared together and blended to create the masala (spice mixture), then combined with meat, poultry or vegetables and simmered in tomato and yoghurt.

Things like ginger, chillies and fresh grated coconut and fresh turmeric freeze well and take up very little storage space. By travelling with a frozen bag full of these harder to source items, it is possible to eat authentic style foods anywhere.

Although this recipe involves quite a lot of ingredients and requires the blending of the masala, the result is a smooth, nutty and highly fragrant curry.

This is not your basic camp style food and involves quite a few steps. A pestle and mortar is traditionally used to grind the masala paste but if your vehicle is equipped with an inverter - used to convert 12 volt car power into 240 volt, a small domestic stick mixer can be carried for convenience. Alternately, the spice and vegetable masala can be cooked and stored in advance and the meat or vegetables added on site.

This is the basic sauce for cooking 750 grams of any combination of meat or vegetables. Here we used a combination of chicken breast, sweet potato, carrot and broccoli

Served with rice and an Indian style bread like Naan it provides a well rounded meal.


Spice Masala

2 tablespoons of vegetable oil.

10 curry leaves

½ inch piece of cinnamon stick, crumbled.

1 tablespoon coriander seeds, whole.

1 teaspoon cumin seeds, whole.

2 teaspoons sesame seeds.

3 whole cloves.

½ tablespoon black peppercorns.

1 black cardamom pod, lightly bruised.

4 green cardamom pods, lightly bruised.

Vegetable Masala

1 large brown onion.

3 cloves of garlic.

½ inch cube of fresh ginger.

½ inch cube of fresh turmeric (or ½ teaspoon powdered).

1 to 4 fresh red chillies or to taste.

2 tablespoons grated fresh coconut (or desiccated).

2 tablespoons ground blanched almonds.

Finishing Ingredients

750g in any combination of chicken, red meat or vegetables, cut into 1 inch cubes.

2 red tomatoes, peeled and finely chopped.

½ teaspoon of salt.

4 tablespoons of plain, natural yoghurt.

2 tablespoons of chopped fresh coriander leaves, to garnish.


Heat a heavy based pan on medium to high, add 1 tablespoon of oil and add the spices, one at a time, in the above order. Allow 10 second intervals between the addition of each spice, stirring constantly.

Immediately add the ingredients in the vegetable masala, again in the listed order one at a time, stirring continually. At no stage allow any ingredient to burn.

Turn heat to medium low and sauté the ingredients for about 15 minutes. The aim is to allow the vegetables to pick up a little colour and for the coconut and almonds to brown. Avoid any burning. The mixture should smell very fragrant. Thorough cooking at this stage aids in providing rich brown colour and strong aromas and taste in the finished curry.

Remove the mixture from the heat and when it has cooled sufficiently, blend or grind with ½ a cup of water until it is a smooth paste.

Heat the remaining oil and return the blended mixture to the pan and on a medium heat, cook, stirring until the oil begins to separate from the spices.

Add the meat or chicken and quickly stir fry until the meat changes colour.

Add the tomatoes and salt and stir for a minute.

Remove from the heat and incorporate the yoghurt, 1 tablespoon at a time, until well blended.

Add ½ cup of water and return to the heat. Simmer, covered, 20 minutes for chicken and 1 to 1 ½ hours for meat or until nearly tender. Stir occasionally.

Add vegetables and cook for another 20 minutes.

Sprinkle with chopped coriander leaves and serve.

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