Going to the Arctic? How to make curry that'll keep

The Canadian Museum of Nature is celebrating Canada's Arctic through the theme of food this weekend, and in advance of the event CBC Radio's All in A Day learns how to prepare food for arctic expeditions.

Roger Bull with the Canadian Museum of Nature gives his recipe for Arctic expeditions

(Roger D. Bull © Canadian Museum of Nature)

The Canadian Museum of Nature is celebrating Canada's Arctic through the theme of food this weekend, and in advance of the event CBC Radio's All in A Day learns how to prepare food for Arctic expeditions.

Roger Bull is the DNA lab coordinator with the Canadian Museum of Nature but he's also become the de facto chef on the museum's Arctic expeditions.

Bull will also be giving two interactive talks on Arctic expedition food in the Canadian Museum of Nature's lab on Sunday Apr. 6th at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.  

On Wednesday, Bull is Alan Neal's D is for Dinner guest on All in a Day where he is sharing his stories about Arctic expeditions and how to prepare food for long treks.

Dehydrated-Rehydrated Vegetable Jalfrezi

(adapted from Jamie Oliver’s recipe in Jamie’s Food Revolution)

(If you’re preparing for a 25-day, 5-person Arctic research expedition, multiply the recipe by 3.5 to include the curry in a 5-day meal plan. After dehydrating, portion the curry evenly into 5 resealable bags.)

  • 1 medium onion, chopped.
  • 1 fresh red or green chili, thinly sliced.
  • Thumb-sized piece of fresh root ginger, peeled and thinly sliced.
  • 2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced.
  • a small bunch of fresh cilantro.
  • 2 red bell peppers, seeded and chopped.
  • 1 cauliflower.
  • 3 ripe tomatoes, chopped.
  • 1 small butternut squash.
  • 1 x 15-ounce can of chickpeas, drained.
  • Peanut or vegetable oil.
  • ½ cup of jalfrezi or medium curry paste, such as Patak's, or Jamie Oliver’s jalfrezi paste (see recipe below).
  • 2 x 14-ounce cans of diced tomatoes.
  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar.
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  • 1 lemon.
  • 1 cup natural yogurt.


  1. Pick the cilantro leaves and finely chop the stalks.
  2. Break the green leaves off the cauliflower and discard. Break the cauliflower into florets and slice them to about ¼ cm widths (this will help with the dehydration). Slice the cauliflower stalk to the same width.
  3. Carefully halve the butternut squash, then scoop out the seeds with a spoon and discard. Peel the squash and chop into 1 cm cubes (or smaller).

Cook the curry

  1. (Roger D. Bull © Canadian Museum of Nature)
    Put a large casserole-type pan on medium to high heat and add a modest splash of oil. Add the onions, chili, ginger, garlic, and cilantro stalks and cook for I 0 minutes until softened and golden. Add the peppers, butternut squash, drained chickpeas, and jalfrezi curry paste. Stir well to coat everything with the paste. Add the cauliflower, the fresh and canned tomatoes, and the vinegar.
  2. Fill 1 empty can with water, pour into the pan, and stir again. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down and simmer for 45 minutes with the lid on.
  3. Check the curry after 30 minutes and if it still looks a bit watery, simmer uncovered for the remaining 15 minutes. (Having your curry a bit on the dry side is helpful for dehydrating).
  4. When the veggies are tender, taste and add salt and pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice.

Dehydrate the curry

  1. Let the hot curry sit until it’s warm.
  2. Spread the curry in thin layers onto dehydrator trays lined with non-stick sheets (or parchment paper). Turn on your dehydrator and set it to about 130°C.
  3. Dehydrate the curry for 8-10 hours, rotating the trays partway through to dry evenly. Feel the curry with your fingers to make sure it’s fully dry and then package it in resealable plastic bags.
  4. If you don’t plan on eating it within the next few weeks, store in the refrigerator or freezer just to be safe!

Rehydrate the Curry

  1. (Roger D. Bull © Canadian Museum of Nature)
    Empty the dehydrated curry into a pot. Add boiling water until the curry is just covered.
  2. Cover the pot and let sit for at least 20 minutes.
  3. Stir the curry and place on a burner on medium heat. Stirring frequently, bring the curry to a simmer, adding hot water as necessary to reconstitute it to the desired consistency.
  4. Serve on a bed of couscous or instant rice - which actually tastes good when you’re tired and hungry in the Arctic!

Jamie Oliver's Jalfrezi curry paste

  • 2 cloves of garlic.
  • Thumb-sized piece of fresh root ginger.
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric.
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt.
  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil.
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste.
  • 1 fresh green chili.
  • Small bunch of fresh cilantro.
  • Spices for toasting:
    • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds.
    • 1 teaspoon brown mustard seeds.
    • 1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds.
    • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds.

  1. Peel the garlic and ginger.
  2. Put a frying pan on a medium to high heat and add the spices for toasting to the dry pan.
  3. Lightly toast them for a few minutes until golden brown and aromatic then remove the pan from the heat. Add the toasted spices to a mortar and pestle and grind until fine, or put them into a food processor and blend to a powder.
  4. Combine the ground spices and the rest of the ingredients in a food processor and blend until you have a smooth paste.