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Dehydrated Indian food on the trail – Backpacking Menu

How awesome would it be to have sambar rice for lunch on a backpacking trip ?! 

And I have figured out a few recipes that work really well for us. 

Things needed:

  • A dehydrator :
  • Home cooked food or left overs
  • Patience

White Rice/Pongal/Pulav/Upma:

  • Just cook like you would regularly and layer them up on the dehydrator until they become crispy with no moisture. At the highest temperature setting, it took me around 7-8 hours. I usually do the dehydration overnight. 


  • The key here is thick consistency. 
  • And spike up all the spice levels. Extra chilly powder, salt, and sourness. Just little extra does it for me. 
  • After the dehydration the spice levels do go down. So, these extras will come in handy to compensate. Experiment with your spice level.
  • Vegetables I have tried – Finely chopped onions, tomatoes, carrots, peas, potatoes in the sambar. They have been rehydrating reasonably well.
  • This takes a bit longer than rice to dehydrate. At highest temperature, around 15-16 hours sometimes. If you only make a smaller quantity it might not take that long. With Dhal, if I try to flip them in the middle and rotate the trays from top to bottom for even heat distribution.

Storing in the fridge:

  • I store them in the zip-loc cover and freeze. 
  • I generally make them a week or two before the trip. 
  • Since its frozen, it does stay just fine over a longer period too. 

Storing outside:

  • The longest we have kept the food outside the fridge was 10-days, with no preservatives. I haven’t experimented beyond that. 
  • 10-day road trip in hot New Mexico, the dehydrated Dhal survived. The left overs, we just ate them like chips. Yes, the Dhal chips are awesome snacks.

Rehydrating Process:

There are basically couple of ways to rehydrate.

  • Cook them with water until you see the food has rehydrated enough. Simmer slowly. Might take about 30 mins with this method.
  • Use the old dry-freeze bags and add food and hot water. Leave for 15-20 mins and its ready to be eaten. We bought some Kathmandu curry packs for Patagonia trip. (Chile doesn’t allow unsealed dehydrated food. )  We saved these empty packs that we currently use for rehydrating. 

Next, I plan to try Chakrapongal for dessert. Will update on how it turns out !!