Mumbai Food: Experts tips on outdoor cooking for campfires during weekends

Nov 11, 2017, 09:07 IST | Shraddha Uchil

Winter is setting in, and there's no better time to gather your brood and set up camp over the weekend. Three food and travel experts help you ace the outdoor cooking game

Ditch the tikka, make a dessert Ankiet Gulabani, food writer
We, in Mumbai, are not very big on grilling or barbecuing food outdoors. And even if we do try it, we tend to stick to skewering chicken or paneer that has been slathered in tikka masala, and cook it over a fire.

The next time you go out camping and want to give cooking outdoors a shot, why not try making a dessert? If you have a portable grill, I suggest preparing a simple skillet apple pie. All you need to do is cook the apple chunks with cinnamon, sugar, lime juice, and ginger.

Then, you start layering a skillet with breadcrumbs and the apple mixture alternatively. Top this with butter. Cover the skillet with a sheet of aluminium foil, and let it cook for 10 to 15 minutes on medium to low heat, and voila! If you don't want to use a skillet, you can even make mini versions of these by simply wrapping the ingredients in foil and letting it cook on the fire.

Prepare for every situation Sharad Shah, founder, Carvan Trips
Minimise your footprint: It's best to minimise your footprint when you're out in nature. So, if you have a bonfire built, use the same spot to set up your cooking fire.

Ready your 'stove': Not everyone knows how to start a fire without the help of some starter fuel like kerosene. But here's a tip: use the kerosene to start your bonfire, and when it is dying down, form a stone boundary around it and throw the coal in to create a stove. This way, you will have the coal red-hot in no time, and without the fear of your food smelling of kerosene. If you're unsuccessful in starting a fire, it's best to carry a back-up stash of packaged food like sponge cake, or fruits and items like theplas.

What to carry: People may not want to spend time cooking while camping. If you're one of them, I recommend carrying ready-to-eat meals and instant noodles - food that requires you to get only a pot of water boiling over the fire. Other simple stuff you can make includes barbecued meats and veggies on skewers. Prepare the marinade in advance, so you don't have to do too much once you arrive.

Chefs Boo Kim and Kelvin Cheung with meat barbecued on their smoker grill
Chefs Boo Kim and Kelvin Cheung with meat barbecued on their smoker grill

Grill like a pro Chef Kelvin Cheung
>> Cut all your items to equal size. This way, you will be able to ensure all the pieces cook evenly.
>> Remember to keep turning your meat, fish, or veggies - and even marshmallows, for that matter - to ensure even cooking. Don't leave it on the grill and assume it will be fine.
>> Temperature control is key to everything. Try not to rush the process, and cook closer to the edge of the fire to ensure gentle, even heat.
>> Bury your veggies and proteins in the ash and ambers. You can season and marinate your ingredients, then wrap them in foil and bury. No hassle, great flavour, and easy clean-up.
>> Don't start cooking before the wood has burned through. Be patient, and take the time to relax. You're outdoors - enjoy it!

All-time favourites
Last week, celebrity chef Jamie Oliver put out an online poll, asking his followers to vote for their favourite bonfire night treat. The options were hot chocolate, toffee apple tart, treacle pudding and appleberry pie. Any guesses which of these won? Hot chocolate - with a whopping 54 per cent of votes!

Pack for your camp kitchen
>> Grill grate or portable grill
>> Matches
>> Charcoal
>> A bottle of kerosene
>> Skewers and tongs
>> A roll of aluminium foil
>> Plates, cups and cutlery
>> Thermos and cooler (for beverages)
>> Trash bags

Direct Versus Indirect Heat
>> Cooking on direct heat (placing the food directly above the heat source) is recommended for grilling items that take under 20 minutes to cook through. This method works best for grilling vegetables, tikkas, kebabs and sausages.

>> Indirect heat (placing the food a little away from the heat source) works best while preparing roasts, ribs, and other large cuts of meat that take longer to cook through.

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