Harambe Nights kicks off in just about a week on June 7, and we got a taste of the amazing celebration that stretches Disney entertainment and dining to new heights.
Early in the evening, the new Harambe Theatre and “The Lion King – Concert in the Wild” is the center of attention, with emotional music performed by a live choir and 25-piece orchestra, the back-up for such talented performers – we were mesmerized as we watched scenes from the blockbuster film come to life in a whole new way.
The Walt Disney World Resort chefs are hard at work too – after the performance, Harambe Village lights up with a lively street party where the food takes center stage. The menu took weeks of planning by Chefs Robert Gilbert and Leonard Thompson, working in symphony with Chef David Njoroge at Sanaa restaurant at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, a native of Kenya who embraces true African-style cooking.
Before the show gets started, you get a little taste of the African and Indian cuisine with small bites such as Moroccan beef kefta with tamarind glaze and a mini-cheeseburger with tomato curry aioli. And just for fun, as you watch the show, there’s a cute little container of “Lion Chow,” a mix of pretzel chips benne (sesame) crumbles, cardamom candied pecans, raisins, cherries and ginger.
The evening is a culinary journey with aromatic spices – you’ll smell the lamb cooking, and get a taste of warm naan bread hot off the griddle. The aromatic spice of Africa create a mélange of amazing tastes – so be adventurous if you haven’t tried something like eggplant tikka masala or crispy pappadum crackers. But you’ll find plenty of familiar flavors too, as the cuisine of America’s South borrows plenty of tastes from Africa, such as barbecued pork (served with a delicious polenta) or simple roast chicken.
With all those diverse bites, naan, an Indian flatbread, is the perfect accompaniment. We can almost guarantee you’ll wish for another taste once you are home, so we’re sharing the recipe without the traditional tandoor oven – just use a pizza stone in the oven or your grill. Harambe Nights takes place every Saturday from June 7 through August 9. The welcome reception begins at 7 p.m., showtime is 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $119 for adults, $79 for ages 3-9, plus tax. Capacity is limited. For tickets, call 407-939-1319 or visit Disneyworld.com/HarambeNights.
Makes 5 (8-inch) breads
3 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon coarse salt
1/2 tablespoon baking soda
1/2 cup milk
2/3 cup warm water
1 tablespoon canola oil
4 tablespoons butter, melted
- Combine flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; stir to combine.
- Combine milk, water, and oil in a medium bowl; whisk to combine.
- With the mixer running, pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients. As soon as the mixture comes together, switch attachment to a dough hook, and mix until dough is smooth and no longer sticky. Do not over-mix.
- Cover bowl with plastic wrap, and set aside at room temperature for 1 hour.
- Place a pizza stone on a top rack of the oven, positioned approximately 6 inches below the broiler. Preheat oven to 500° for at least 30 minutes.
- Divide dough evenly into 5 pieces. On a lightly floured surface, roll each piece into an 8-inch circle.
- Turn oven to broil. Carefully slide one circle of dough onto the preheated pizza stone, and broil until bread is bubbled and golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes. Watch carefully, as the bread can burn very quickly. Repeat with remaining dough rounds. Brush the warm bread with melted butter, and serve immediately.