Celebrating African Cuisine: 10 Delicious Ugandan Dishes
Food all over the world is an appreciated art. Over time, people have mixed, added, subtracted and created, from the abundance of plants, roots, poultry and other animals, recipes and cuisine that have been of great value to humankind. On the African continent, there are foreign influences on local cuisine. A strong instance is in Uganda, a country in East Africa, where both traditional and modern cooking methods exist but with strong English, Asian, and Arab influences on cooking practices, dishes, and foods. Like many countries around the world, meals in Uganda are usually served in courses; the first is starch-based while the second course is usually a soup dish. Third, fourth and more courses may follow especially in upper-class homes and high-end restaurants.
Many tribes in Uganda boast of their own special delicacy or dish for which they are well known. These often include tropical fruits, grains, vegetables and root plants, though poultry, fresh and dried fish, and meats are also consumed by denizens. In no particular order this article features the 10 most popular Ugandan meals.
Oluwombo or Luwombo is a traditional Ugandan stew dish that is made from beef, mushrooms, chicken or fish steamed in banana leaves. It is both a royal and a fairly common dish cooked especially during the holidays. Luwombo is said to have been created in 1887 by the personal chef of Kabaka Mwanga, who ruled the kingdom of Buganda at the tail end of the 19th century. The dish consists of beef or chicken with vegetables like potatoes and carrots, wrapped in banana leaves and steamed to perfection with just the right amount of salt, oil and spices. It is considered special for many reasons including the way it is presented; wrapped in leaves like a gift. In some variations, smoked fish is added to the beef or chicken.
Posho is one of Ugandans’ all-time favourites. Similar to Italy’s polenta, it is neither sweet nor savoury but takes on the flavour of the soup it is served with. Made of finely ground white corn flour mixed with boiling water until it becomes solid, posho is not an easy meal to cook—because it becomes stiff while being prepared. Regardless, posho must be thoroughly mixed for it to be a satisfying meal.
While it is considered uncultured to eat on the go in Uganda, chapatti is one of the few meals made for just a purpose. Made from wheat flour, water, salt and baking powder, chapattis are rolled out like pastry crusts but are more elastic and hardy in texture. They are also fried in enough oil to thicken them and make them flaky. They are best eaten alone or with pinto bean soup or tea.
Adapted from “choma”, a Swahili word which translates to mean meat, muchomo includes anything from pork chunks, to goat meat, chicken gizzards and any other kind of meat in-between. Most readily available in Uganda, muchomo is offered in restaurants, roadside shops, and sports hangouts and pitches. It is often served with sweet roasted plantains (known as gonja with locals).
- Groundnut sauce
Called gnut sauce by locals, this brownish creamy sauce prepared from sweet red peanuts, is an accompaniment with meals. Offered with roasted fish, boiled mashed plantain (matooke), and sweet potatoes, groundnut sauce is a favourite with Ugandans, which means it is included in almost all buffets and meals in the country. Groundnut sauce is also eaten as a soup dish in western Kenya and other parts of East and West Africa.
A traditional and heavy breakfast dish that can be eaten during the day, katogo consists of fried plantains with soup and beef, beans, or animal (cow, goat, chicken) offal spiced with vegetables. This meal is popular with Ugandans and often served as early as nine in the morning.
Pronounced “mu-toke-ee”, matooke is a green banana dish. With over twenty different varieties of bananas in Uganda, matooke is one of those eaten quite often. Usually steamed in its own leaves, smashed and eaten hot before hardening, matooke can also be fried with onions and tomatoes and eaten as leftovers.
- TV Chicken
This particular Ugandan delicacy is so called because of the methods used in cooking it. Indeed, TV chicken derives its name from the makeshift rotisserie oven, which resembles a television, in which it is roasted. The chicken is also served with homemade French fries and salads. Available among roadside vendors, TV chicken is very popular with college students due to its large portions and ready availability.
Chaloko is a traditional meal made with pinto beans, purple or red onions, tomatoes, green peppers, and a little cooking oil. Similar to the bean porridge popular in Nigeria, chaloko is another Ugandan delicacy that can be served with posho, made from cornmeal.
Mandazi, also known as the Swahili bun or Swahili coconut doughnut, is a kind of fried bread that forms a major part of Ugandan cuisine. When made with coconut milk to add sweetness, madazi is called mahamri or mamri by locals. It also often shaped into triangles, circles or ovals without holes (as doughnuts are made). Mandazi can also be eaten with different dips, like fruit flavoured ones, as well as with tea and fruit juices.
Interestingly, there is also no shortage of drinks in Uganda, as well as other tasty meals such as nswaa (white ant dish) or nsenene (grasshopper dish). Masala chai, a kind of spiced tea, is also served during the day.
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