December 2, 2008

Reading Time: 568 minutes.

What food can you eat for breakfast, dinner and tea, is easy to prepare and light to carry yet feels like a real treat? The answer is the good old expedition staple; the flat bread or chapatti.

Now flat bread isn’t bivvy food like all the other food discussed in the other HK articles, as I doubt most people want to be rolling and kneading dough on the side of a mountain. What it is perfect for is Base Camp food, either car camping, hut to hutting or those rainy days stuck when you just want to spice up a boring hill diet. The best thing about this kind of bread is that you don’t need all the usual stuff you need for proper bread and it can be cooked without an oven on any stove. What you’ll need to make a decent quantity is:

* 1 cup flour * 1/2 teaspoon salt * 1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil * less than 1/2 a cup of warm water (enough for a kneadable dough).

To cook this you will ideally need a frying pan/pan lid but it can be cooked inside a standard pan. The recipe goes as follows: knead the dough, cover and leave aside for at least half an hour or, ideally, up to two hours. After about one hour (or right before rolling out), punch the dough and knead again without any more water. Make five to seven 11/2” balls; dip each one into the flour and roll out into thin 6” circles. Place the clean (ungreased) pan on your stove on a medium-high heat. When hot put the bread ‘right side’ down on the pan. (The ‘right side’ is the one facing you when you roll it.) When bubbles are visible, turn over and cook until tiny brown spots appear on the side facing the griddle. You can also hold the bread directly over the burner flame for a few seconds, until the bread puffs up. Turn and repeat on the other side.

Once you’ve made your bread you can serve it as it is, perhaps adding butter if you don’t want to eat it plain. Another better option is to make it part of a meal. For breakfast you can add jam etc to it (again those little jam and butter containers are great for camping/bivvy treats), or sugar and syrup (a kind of poor person’s pancake). You can also carry them for lunch, eating them with cheese, peanut butter etc. For dinner you either use them to supplement your main meal, or make them part of a meal. One way to do this is to make an expedition mini pizza. To do this first cook the bread on both sides until one side is well-cooked and the other side still has a little way to go. Next take a sachet of tomato sauce and lightly coat one half of the cooked side, then add cheese (you probably won’t have a cheese grater so cut it into very thin slices), again only on one half of the cooked side. You can also add any veg you may have such as raw mushrooms or onion and spices.

Next fold the bread in half and stick it into the frying pan and brown the outside. You should now have a mini calzone pizza that has required very little to create. Another simpler option is to make garlic bread by either adding garlic to the dough, or making garlic butter (or garlic olive oil if that’s all you have). All you need once you’ve done this is to light some candles and spread out your chequered tablecloth inside your tent.

As for pudding you can make chocolate bread by melting your hill chocolate and making a sandwich (you could fry the whole thing if you’re Scottish), or how about stewed apples and custard (don’t forget the sugar)? One last thing, don’t you think I deserve a pat on the back for not mentioning Mr Hinkes once.