Review of the Back Country Cuisine Thai Chicken Curry

Everything ready to go

Last night I thought I’d have my second go using the Optimus Crux gas stove and I cooked a Back Country Cuisine dehydrated meal that I bought a couple of weeks ago from Bivouac in Albany.  I wanted to try the dehydrated meals at least once before I started Te Araroa so I knew if I liked them or not – I’d never tried one before.  Here’s what it says on the packet:

Thai Chicken Curry (Gluten Free) – The distinctive Thai taste of coconut milk & curry with chicken, green beans and roasted cashews”.

Well they sure make it sound appealing.  But I didn’t have high expectations.  I expected it to be bland and chewy and have a kind of “mystery meat” taste that you often get with cheap cuts of chicken.

Boiled some water on the stove (easy just like last time, despite the fact I had the pot quite off-centre as you can see) and poured it into the bag, stirred it, sealed it up and left it for 10 minutes.  Then, apparently you can rip off the bag at its midway point where the notches are and eat it directly out of the bag.  But I wanted to put it into my plate so I could see it.


As you can see it doesn’t look too bad, and I’m pleased to say that it tasted good too!  Spicier than I expected.  Quite a lot of flavour.  Although if I’m honest, I couldn’t identify the chicken.  Is it the square pieces?  That’s what I assumed, however the ingredients list contained “Soy Protein” as well as chicken, and this looked a bit like soy protein.  I don’t really know if I’m honest.  Although the rest of the ingredients were there and identifiable and tasted nice.

I’m not a foodie, so I don’t know good food when I find it.  In fact, I’m quite fussy with food, I often won’t eat something if I don’t know what meat it is or if there are ingredients listed that I haven’t heard of or if I simply don’t know the ingredients.  So the fact that I found this nice must be a good sign!

It was a small meal serve though.  The 1 serve was only 392 calories and I imagine after a day of hiking that is going to be very unsatisfying, and I think it was $8.99.  So I’d definitely be buying the 2 serve which was $12.99 for the amount of food I feel I’d need.  And I feel like I used the amount of water it said and left it for the length of time I was told to but it ended up just a little bit too watery.

I’ve just looked up their website and realised that one of their Frequently Asked Questions is “why is the meat rectangular?”, so that answers that question.  The square bits are the meat.  Interesting.  By the way, the answer is that it re-hydrates better and isn’t crunchy.  They’re also made in Invercargill too, here in New Zealand.

Definitely next I’ll try one of the dessert range… and also there’s a Butter Chicken meal too, but another company make that one.

More Back Country Cuisine meals

I tried a couple more of the Back Country Cuisine meals last night, in preparation for starting Te Araroa. This time it was:

  • Murgh Makhani (Butter Chicken) – chicken and rice in a thick gravy of cream, coriander, tomato and ginger sauce, garnished with dried almonds
  • Apricot Crumble – Fruity chunks of apricot made in a hot sauce and covered with tasty malt crumbs

I thought that the Butter Chicken one was made by a different company (namely The Outdoor Gourmet Company), and the packet suggests it is, but reading the back of the packet I notice that they have the same Invercargill address as Back Country Cuisine so they must be related in some way!

Each was two servings so at first I divided each one into two. While hiking I’m sure I would want to eat the whole two serves each time but since I’m not hiking yet I thought I’d stick to one serve. The Butter Chicken looked a lot like the Thai Chicken Curry I tried the other night, so I was optimistic that it would taste good. The Apricot Crumble on the other hand, just looked like apricots and sugar. There was a distinct lack of “crumble”, and the biscuit crumbs that it came with were very fine so I was surprised.

It’s so easy to make these – boil water, put the water in the bag, and leave for 10 minutes. This time though I made them in the bowls and put Glad Wrap over the top.

The Butter Chicken was quite nice. It’s not as thick and creamy as I’d hoped and as the label promised but I wasn’t expecting it to be – there’s only so creamy you can get when adding water. It didn’t look like a lot of food but actually I was surprisingly full afterwards. A little bit more spice would have been nice, but I know a lot of people like their Butter Chickens mild. It was no replacement for a real Butter Chicken from an Indian Restaurant but it will definitely do when you’re out in the middle of nowhere. It did make me crave a real Butter Chicken though. If I was hiking through Kaitaia right now I’d be having Indian food for dinner that’s for sure!

The Apricot Crumble on the other hand I didn’t understand, it seemed more like “apricots in a thick paste”. I feel like I would have got the same result if I took a can of apricots in syrup, crushed up a packet of malt biscuits as finely as I could and mixed them together – I’d have the same result for about 20% of the price. I didn’t really like the taste either, I mean the apricots were nice but the rest of it was a bit weird. Kind of a tangy sugary gloopy mess.

I’d definitely buy the Butter Chicken again but the Apricot Crumble I think I’d pass – for dessert I think I’ll just take a block of chocolate.

This is the last time I’ll be trying the dehydrated food before I start the trail, it’s pretty clear that I like the savoury ones and will be taking a bunch of them but I’ll probably pass on the sweet ones.