Discover your inner Jedi with the Star Wars diet

What would the UAE's top chefs cook for the Star Wars characters?
Nuts and dried fruits, an ideal treat for a hungry star warrior according to Cladys Magagna, Executive Chef at Fairmont Bab Al Bahr and current Gourmet Abu Dhabi Executive Chef of the Year. Courtesy Fairmont Hotel, Abu Dhabi
Nuts and dried fruits, an ideal treat for a hungry star warrior according to Cladys Magagna, Executive Chef at Fairmont Bab Al Bahr and current Gourmet Abu Dhabi Executive Chef of the Year. Courtesy Fairmont Hotel, Abu Dhabi

As the Jedi, Wookiees and Hutts rough it out in the desert, Chris Newbould draws up some elaborate meal options for their presumably varied tastes, using the combined force of five expert chefs from across the UAE

We don’t know who’s catering the Star Wars shoot in the Abu Dhabi desert, but we do know that it can’t be an easy job cooking for such a mixed bunch of intergalactic warriors. From health-conscious Jedi to ravenous Wookiees, innumerable alien races and even a number of robots, the poor caterers have wildly different tastes to satisfy. Not only that, but because they have to cook it all in the unfriendly desert environment, it needs to be nutritious if our heroes (and villains) are going to be able to go about the daily grind of intergalactic warfare and it needs to be able to stay tasty while sitting for hours between battles. Or shoots. We asked some of the leading chefs from the UAE how they would cope in this situation.

Darine El Khatib, Fatafeat channel director and TV chef

Bread and cheese – you just have to keep it simple in these situations.

Jeffrey Whitfield, head chef of Cravin’ Cajun at Novotel Dubai Al Barsha

• Starter: Death Star crab cake. This crab cake gives you the power to destroy entire planets. Nutritional and hearty, it is the perfect start to any battle – the ultimate food weapon.

• Main: Seafood Jambalaya the Hutt. Made specifically for The Hutt species, full of crustaceans and protein, this is the meal that will set you up for a hard day’s work.

• Dessert: Dagobah-nana Foster Pain Perdu. Bananas sourced from the swamps of forests of the outer rim planet Dagobah served with extra sweetness for all the energy needed.

Owen Lloyd, executive chef at Jazz@PizzaExpress

• Starter: Inter-garlic-tic bread – the perfect entrée when having to tackle Imperial Stormtroopers.

• Side: Millennium Falcon salad with extra rocket(s) – oodles of Parmesan, extra virgin olive oil and balsamic syrup, because taking down a fleet of TIE Fighters requires something extra special.

• Main: Pollo ad Asteroid (Astra) – with generous amounts of chicken, light mozzarella, sweet Peppadew peppers, Cajun spice, garlic oil and red onions, you will take flight at the speed of light through the toughest asteroid field.

Cladys Magagna, executive chef at Fairmont Bab Al Bahr and the current Gourmet Abu Dhabi Executive Chef of the Year

To ensure we get the right nutrition to win the battle, I recommend a good balance of protein, carbohydrate and good fat.

Considering the weather in the desert, South African biltong made from beef and chicken and kusaya, a Japanese dry fish, very rich in vitamins and amino acids, are both great snacks to have at all times. A variety of dry fruits, such as dates, is mandatory.

Organic granola, made with spelt or whole oats that are full of fibre, high in protein, vitamins and minerals such as iron and magnesium, is a good bust of energy to fight the aliens.

The queen of healthy snacks, almonds, which are second to none in nutritional value, can be used to distract the enemy.

If we add some preserved tomatoes and basil sauce in sealed jars, extra virgin olive oil, capers, anchovies, mustard, olives, whole-wheat sliced bread and a variety of organic, low-in-sodium canned products such as tuna, we can prepare some great and healthy sandwiches for months. With the above ingredients, we must add a great quality of dry pasta and risotto, which can be cooked right there in the desert.

Sugar-free cookies, meringue and honey will be the closing chapter for the meal. 

Michelle Mueller, chef, The Cafe, Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi

I would cook hangi. This is a traditional New Zealand Maori method of cooking food, using heated rocks buried in a pit oven, still used for special occasions.

Dig a hole in the sand deep enough for the food and the stones to be inside. Once the fire is lit, pile volcanic stones on top of it. It takes approximately three-and-a-half hours for the stones to become really hot (they should turn white).

You should have two holes, one to heat the stones and the other to cook in later. The burnt ash from the wood fire could leave a smoky flavour to the food, which you don’t want. Once the stones are hot and white, they should be placed in the second hole as fast as possible, so as not to lose any heat on the way.

As we are in the local desert, I would suggest camel, lamb meat and chicken. Also some vegetables such as potatoes, carrots and pumpkin. Don’t cut the vegetables too small as they would overcook. Season the food with salt and pepper and some herbs, and wrap tightly in aluminium foil.

Once the stones are placed side by side in the hole, with no room for the heat to escape, gently slap the hot rocks with wet sacks, creating steam. Place the food on the hot stones – the meat is directly on the stones, while the vegetable is the second layer.

Cover the food with a wet sheet, then place wet sacks over the food. Next, cover the sacks with sand, making sure no dirt will cave onto the stones or food, and leave to cook.

cnewbould@thenational.ae

Published: May 27, 2014 04:00 AM

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