Marina’s Desert Kitchen

People who know me are aware that sometimes I do a bit of cooking in the desert….

Boxing Day Brunch 2011            
Breakfast in Arada (Liwa), ADDC April 2012        

A friend once commented that after a bad experience wadi camping where everybody was cold and uncomfortable and headed to a hotel after the first night, she wanted to go desert camping with “someone who knows what they are doing”.  We’ve certainly had plenty of experience wild camping in the desert here but we are still learning!

So considering that a happy group of friends are generally a well fed group of friends, here’s my lowdown on mass catering in the desert.

  • If there are kids in the group then establish a BBQ area away from where everyone is sitting, and make it a no-go area for the kids.  
  • Pay attention to the way the wind is blowing, some sand in your food is inevitable but a bit of forethought keeps it to a minimum.
  • Keep food simple, and make sure it is properly cooked.  
  • Set up a campfire, even in summer, it gives a nice light to sit round and the smoke keeps the beasties away.
  • After cooking is done, cut a drinks tin in half (with a knife or fold it over back and forth til it breaks), drop a lump of hot coal in the bottom then sprinkle some frankincense over it; I love the smell and it too keeps beasties away.
  • Remember to pick up all your rubbish before you go.
  • After darkness falls, it is recommended to wear trainers or boots – you never know what you might stand on.
  • Don’t let kids out of sight – buy some glo stick bracelets and make them wear one as it’s easier to keep tabs on them!

Here’s a picture of the contents of my desert kitchen which has enough equipment for small BBQs and cookouts – clockwise(ish) from top left.

Small saucepan, 
Small frying pan
Rechargeable light
Selection of cutlery (hate eating with plastic forks and knives)
Tin opener
Potato Peeler
Selection of teas and coffees (also a couple of rehydration sachets)
Bamboo skewers
Chopping Board
Plastic jug
Mosquito Coils
Selection of kitchen utensils
Chilli flakes – let everyone spice up their food to their own taste
Frankincense for burning in Fire
Hand Sanitiser
Washing up liquid
Brand new sponge scourer
BBQ fan
Timer/Food thermometer (always important to check the temp of food from a bbq)
Plastic plates
Silicon gloves – great for emptying bbq, lifting coals out for shisha/frankincense tin
Plastic bags – various sizes
Latex gloves – always like to clear up more than my own rubbish from a campspot
Bin liners

and it all fits inside this!

If we are heading out into the desert for a few days, then I take a supplementary basket – this gives us more cooking options.

Into the blue basket I put
Large saucepan with lid
Large frying pan
Large keephot container
Melamine plates x 2
Collapsible water bucket
Collapsible colander
Pack of UNO cards
*use Lakeland pot separators to stop the non-stick coating becoming too scratched.

I also take two gas stoves with at least two cannisters of gas each as I count on using 1.5-2 per day for all our cooking and washing needs.

It’s easy to sort out food for a 1-2 day trip, on our next foray into the wilds I will take some frozen camel stew and it will take 2 days to defrost fully in the coolbox.  I’ll serve it with rice at our second campsite. On the first night a friend is taking some kebabs etc for a bbq, which means that on the 3rd night when we are on our own we will be eating out of the dry good box.  Menu options so far are:-

Pack of dried pasta and a bottle of pasta sauce
6-pack of fresh eggs (if you dare dune bash with them!) plus a tin of sweetcorn and a chopped onion =  a lovely omelette
Fry up some chopped onions with some potatoes, add some beaten egg for a filling supper
Tin haggis, tin beans and some eggs for a late breakfast/brunch
Bake some potatoes in the campfire, serve with tinned cheese (yes you really do get tinned cheese here) and some pickle
Vegetable biryani (boil in the bag, will keep this for a “tough day” as it is so easy to prepare when tired). 


Who wants to come to the desert with me?  (By the way, if I cook, then you do the dishes!)


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