How to Make An Authentic Indian meal in a 34 Foot RV

Camping is not for everyone. I get that. It takes a badass attitude to deal with some of the challenges that come with camping, motorhome living or trying to be one of the best RV chefs in a hundred-mile radius.  Indian food

Just tent camping with the family can be hard enough when you wake up to twenty-degree mornings in the eastern Sierras mountains of southern California. It might be twenty degrees colder than expected and you might be freezing all night long in a tent. Voyaging across America in a 34-foot motorhome can also have its fair share of unexpected zaniness.

“Shitters Full”

No one wants to hear those words at nine p.m. on an RV trip unless you are watching a Chevy Chase film. Sometimes your shitter almost overflows in the middle of a fourteen-degree snowstorm. Of course, this poopy problem had to happen after dinner, it was dark and unbearably cold outside. Sometimes your awning comes loose while stuck in traffic on the Golden Gate Bridge. Sometimes you are just really craving a Manglorean style ghee roast but you didn’t pack any FenuGreek seeds and there is no way you can buy Indian spices anywhere near Cheyenne Wyoming.

Some people just need the conveniences of home; being close to their pets, their things, and their DirecTV. I’m not at all one of those people. I have the wanderlust and I have it bad. Just ask my boyfriend, it’s like a sad sickness that has invaded my veins. Even when we have traveled a thousand miles from home and I can’t buy curry leaves or tamarind paste at the local Fred Meyers grocer.

Indian food
Does it smell like curry in here to you?

As soon as we get back from one trip I’ve usually moved on to planning the next. You can find me in front of my tablet with an espresso and I’m mainlining information on campsites, massive hikes to mountain peaks or google mapping how far Los Angeles is to Grand Teton National Park or Mt Rushmore.

Indian food
An authentic Indian meal, camp style

Whereas camping is not for everyone, who does not love homemade Indian food? Um, yeah, I know, a lot of people! We in our household, however, love us some authentic Indian cuisine and our RV pretty much always smells like wonderful spicy curry goodness. And we are okay with that.

Why do we go out of our way to be the most impressive Indian RV chefs even when out in the middle of nowhere? Because Indian food is so filling after a hard day of hiking trails all over America or driving for three hundred miles down America’s scenic highways. A great Indian meal made by a patient RV chef is a great way to end the day of travel. Two summers ago in Telluride, Colorado we perfected Butter Goat. Yes, that is one step up from Butter Chicken. You thought cashew and cream-filled Butter Chicken was delicious? Try substituting an organic homegrown grass-fed goat leg!

How can you make the best Indian food while on the roads of America in a 34 foot RV?

On our 3,000-mile cross-country voyage, we also made homemade lentil dal, a delicious spicy seafood ghee roast and somewhere in Wyoming, I fried up my delicious sweet potato vadas at 7 AM. RV chefs rise at dawn to keep the family bellies full of delicious treats!

We never let the fact that we are traveling across the country stop us from cooking the best (Okay maybe the only) Indian food you can get within 100 miles of Yellowstone National Park. Wyoming may be more well known for BBQ than bhajis but that didn’t stop us RV chefs from whipping up a great paleek panner as the buffalo roamed in the background.

Indian food
Bison curry? Maybe!

Stock your RV with absolutely everything the RV chef might need

I’ve got news for you. You are not going to find a Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods, let alone a store with anything ethnic in South Dakota. But I bet they have awesome bison jerky! When you are traveling through the back roads of North America, if you want to make any kind of ethnic grub then the RV needs to be fully stocked with all the spices you may need. The local grocer near Mt Rushmore will not have garam masala and you will be very lucky to find cumin seeds, let alone spicy chilies like serranos. If it’s more ethnic than salt and pepper and you are driving your big ass RV into the Midwest, you better pack it!RV

Where do I stock up on everything curry?

You are in the middle of nowhere in Lone Pine California, the wildest town in the west that does not have hard alcohol in their saloons. Did you remember to stock up on chilies and chutneys and curry powder before setting out on the highways of America? Where do you buy the best in spices that India has to offer? We buy all of our spices and any chutneys that I don’t feel like hand-making from I Shop Indian a month before we plan on leaving for our trip.

For years is the place to go for all your tastes of Bangalore, Calcutta or Bombay needs. We stock up once a year because if you spend over $150 you get discounted shipping! Those heavy bottles of date chutneys add up fast so a discount on shipping is appreciated. If you love some authentic curries, dal or masala dishes then make sure you stock up well in advance with authentic Indian food!

Pre grind your spices and chop your veggies at home

It’s a few days before your big trip. Do you really want to pack the food processor? Do you want to be chopping onions or ginger or garlic after driving for eight hours in a 34-foot rig or do you want to relax with a cocktail? I try to grind our homemade curry powder and cumin seeds before we hit the highway in our Fleetwood motor home.

I also do as much roasting of chilies and toasting of spices and chopping of onions in my Nutribullet before we have even left the driveway. It’s not easy to cook a complicated Indian meal in a cramped RV kitchen but it is doable if you make a few small preparations in advance.

I’ve made an authentic Indian food dinner and my rig reeks like India now!

It’s the morning after Indian dinner and the motor home is coming alive to the sounds of the forest and hopefully some fresh brewed coffee. But why does it still smell like Bangalore in here?Indian food

Indian food is awesome but let’s face it; The smells tend to linger. There are ways to lessen the smells in your tiny RV home though and keep the curry smells at bay even if you love to cook Indian food the way that we do. (At least a few times a week)

Buying a good quality lemon-flavored dish soap is a sound investment for creating (And cleaning up following) an authentic Indian meal in a 34 foot RV. Let’s face it, those Indian food smells; onions, garlic and homemade curry powders, are pretty strong. We learned the hard way that those cumin smells tend to linger without the help of a dishwasher to clean cutting boards and other pots and pans. Vinegar or baking soda are great organic cleaners to have on hand in your RV kitchen to get rid of these smelly smells. You can also buy a lemon-based drain cleaner for your grey tank of your RV to pour down the kitchen drain after you dump the tanks. This lemon-based grey tank cleaner worked wonders to help clean the pipes on the way to our grey tank and we never leave home without it!

Bringing your humidifier from home and your favorite essential oils collection is a great idea too if you happen to be camped somewhere with hookups and have power. I always bring a mixture of eucalyptus, clove, sage, lavender and lemongrass oils on all our trips. Let’s get this RV smelling less like Tamil Nadu and more like a day spa!Indian food

There is nothing like driving a thousand miles from home and creating an authentic Indian food dinner exploding with flavors! It is so possible to do even in a tiny RV kitchen with just a little planning in advance!


  1. Teresa

    I loved reading your post! My husband and I plan on doing lots of traveling with a 5th wheel as soon as he retires next year. We’ve been living in West Virginia for the past 20 years, but came here from California and my son was actually born in Lone Pine, believe it or not! Thank you for linking up at Party in Your PJs. I pinned to my RVing board.

  2. Deborah Davis

    All I can say is YUM and what fun! I agree that there are few joys compared to like a thousand miles from home and creating an authentic Indian food dinner.Thank you for sharing your delightful experience with us at the Healthy Happy Green & Natural Party. I’m Pinning and sharing this!

  3. Deborah Davis

    All I can say is YUM and what fun! I agree that there are few joys compared to like a thousand miles from home and creating an authentic Indian food dinner. I also love the idea of bring your oil diffuser along for the ride. I love mine too! Thank you for sharing your delightful experience with us at the Healthy Happy Green & Natural Party. I’m Pinning and sharing this!

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  5. Marla

    I have never been RV’ing but it always sounded like a lot of fun. Your recipe sounds delicious. Using a diffuser especially in a small area that is closed up alot of the time is a great idea and sure would help with an mold or musty smell. Congratulations on being featured on HHG&N blog hop. Tweeted & pinned. Have a healthy, happy & blessed day’

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