Ugandan local foods are arguably the best in Africa. Only in Uganda will you find places that can give you a variety of fresh foods as compared to other countries, they include yummy banana dishes, stews, pastes and juicy fruits and drinks.
Uganda’s culture weaves a yarn of variety not only through the manner of dress, language and other characteristics but also in its variety of dishes.
Many tribes in Uganda eat their fish smoked or fresh (although some kinds of fish are not eaten by certain Baganda clans), while others wash it in a salt solution and dry it in the sun for days. Sun-dried fish is a delicacy in the eastern region.
In western Uganda among the Banyankole, Bakiga and Batooro and most of the north and east like Acholi Alur Langi, millet bread is the favoured dish. The milled flour is mixed with cassava and then mingled.
In the north, smoked beef is skillfully seasoned with a rich sauce of milled sim-sim (sesame) paste and dark green bitter vegetables. In the eastern region, the people of Teso add a light sauce of tamarind fruit which is plenty in those dry areas.
A variety of edible sorghum is often used by some tribes in the east and northeast where the climate makes it impossible to afford the luxury of growing millet.
In western Uganda, equally tasty sauces are scraped out of cow butter and salt to make eshabwe which is best served with millet.
Instead, they prefer a diet of milk, beans, matooke and some millet bread. Meanwhile, the Batooro of western Uganda peel the skins off beans and mash them into a thick paste (firinda) to which they add cow butter and salt to make a really tasty relish that goes well with millet.
Some of the most popular dishes include;
Luwombo (or Oluwombo)
Luwombo has been a royal dish since the year 1887 and it is commonly prepared for exceptional events, for instance, the introduction ceremonies where the groom visits the bride’s home to meet her parents.
Well known across central Uganda, this cooking technique takes in both red and white types of meat, vegetables and pulses i.e. groundnuts as well as fungi like mushrooms
If you want to experience a true, classic Uganda food dish, you should try luwombo. This dish is believed to have been created by the personal chef of King Kabaka Mwanga of the Buganda Kingdom in the late 19th century and is a favourite among both royalty and common folk.
Posho or Kawunga – called Ugali in Kenya, it is usually made from maize but also other starches, regional names include Kwon. Ugandan expatriates make posho from cornmeal, masa harina or grits. Kwon is a type of ugali made from millet (called Kalo in western Uganda) but in other regions like eastern Uganda, they include cassava flour.
Posho is one of those dishes that makes your food stick to your ribs and helps you feel full for a long time. Sometimes called ugali, posho is simply fine, white corn flour that is thoroughly mixed with boiling water until it stiffens into a smooth, doughy consistency. You may think this is a bland Uganda food, but when you eat it with other dishes like soups and beans, it enriches the overall meal and leaves you feeling satisfied.
Muchomo is derived from a Swahili word that means “roasted meat.” Muchomo is a tasty Uganda food that includes various meats ranging from chicken to pork, goat, and sometimes beef.
Ever had that journey to Masaka and stopped by Lukaya or Namawojjolo as you head to Jinja? Does the name Nakulabye resonate with some nyama choma in your mouth? In Swahili from where the term originated, muchomo refers to an act of celebration that follows a victorious finish.
The triumph in Uganda was always celebrated with roasted meat and thus the name muchomo was coined. Muchomo has come to be known as meat/ chicken roasted over an open fire, barbecue is the more formal reference.
You’ll find these meat portions barbecued on a stick and served at roadside stalls, markets, and restaurants, often accompanied by roasted sweet plantains (known as gonja).
In Mexico, they have corn tortillas. In the U.S., they have biscuits or cornbread, and in France, they often have croissants. Every culture around the world has its one bread staple that they eat with everything. In Uganda, that bread staple is chapati.
Made with wheat flour, baking powder, salt and water, chapatis are then rolled out into a pastry crust and often fried in a small amount of oil to thicken them. Once cooked, you can do all sorts of things with chapatis. You can eat them alone or with beans or soup, or even with tea. You can also use them as a wrap to hold minced meat and vegetables inside.
The most popular local dish is matooke (bananas of the plantain type) which is best served with peanut sauce, fresh fish, meat or entrails. Matooke goes with any relish.
You know you can’t leave Uganda without trying out its national dish. Matoke (sometimes spelt matooke) is a banana variety that is considered more of a plantain. Ugandans love to take the green, unripe ones and steam them while still unpeeled.
However, sometimes the plantains are peeled and then steamed. The plantains are then mashed and eaten. Occasionally, matoke is fried with tomatoes and onions. An Indian-influenced alternative to matoke is making the fruit into a curry and adding spices to it.
If you eat a traditional breakfast like the Ugandans, you probably won’t need to eat much else for the rest of the day. In Uganda, katogo starts your day off with a hearty portion of fried plantains served with soup, beans, beef and vegetables.
Some people may prepare this Uganda food with variations that include Irish potatoes, greens, cassava, sweet potatoes, or viscera from goats, chicken or cows. Most of the ingredients of katogo are cooked together in the same pot.
A savoury Uganda food that is popular among college students and the younger generation, TV chicken is so-called because it is roasted in a rotisserie oven that resembles a television. You will find succulent TV chicken offerings for sale at various roadside stalls and restaurants alike, often served with salads, smoked bananas, and French fries.
When in Uganda, you will hear this dish called g-nut sauce. This is the stuff that makes many Uganda dishes taste so yummy and rich. Made from sweet red peanuts into a creamy sauce, groundnut sauce is often served with dishes such as roasted fish, sweet potatoes, and matoke (boiled, mashed plantain).
Every culture has its comfort foods, and chaloko is one of them. Chaloko is a traditional Uganda food dish that is made with pinto beans, green peppers, tomatoes, and red or purple onions. You aren’t doing this dish right unless you eat it with posho, which makes it fill up your belly all nice and satisfying.
If you are in the mood for something sweet, mandazi should hit the spot for you. Similar to a doughnut minus the hole, mandazi is a fried bread that is sweetened with coconut milk and shaped into circles or triangles.
Sometimes, sugar and cinnamon are added as well. You can eat mandazi by itself or by dipping it in tea, juice or fruit dip.
Rolex is one of the Uganda food dishes you really must try because it is one of the most popular foods in the country.
Found cheap and readily available at most roadside stalls, Rolex is served in variations but often consists of eggs cooked into an omelette along with tomato, onion and cabbage. The omelette is then topped or wrapped (rolled up) with a chapati. Some vendors may even add minced meat to the Rolex.
Ugandan Egg Roll
A Ugandan egg roll is nothing like a Chinese egg roll, which is popular around the world. In Uganda, an egg roll consists of a hard-boiled egg that is hidden inside a ball of mashed potatoes and then golden-fried in cooking oil. This delicious food can be eaten for breakfast, lunch, or as a side dish.
Sim Sim Cookies
Sim-sim cookies are a dessert that may remind many Westerners of peanut brittle, only this treat is cooked with sesame seeds instead of peanuts. Sim-sim cookies are made by heating a mixture of sesame seeds and sugar (or honey) until a paste is formed. Afterwards, the mixture is poured out onto a flat surface to cool and then sliced into individual squares.
If you want a hearty, satisfying meal, chickennat is Uganda food you must sample. This dish is made by cooking cut chicken pieces in a stew pot with onions, chicken stock, seasonings, and a peanut butter paste.
Once chickennat is finished cooking, it is usually served with rice or posho, which will leave you feeling full for a good while.
Why not try one of Uganda’s unusual delicacies? Nsenene is a popular dish of fried grasshoppers that are often sold in pubs and roadside eateries.
You can only get this popular snack during the rainy season, particularly in November. Before being fried in the grasshoppers’ natural oils, the insects’ wings and legs are removed. You may see some market and roadside vendors selling the grasshoppers in plastic tubs that you can buy and fry yourself. In pubs, you may be served this treat with your beer.
Ugandan Curried Cabbage
You will love this curried cabbage dish that is a flavorful Ugandan food with a bit of an Indian cuisine twist.
The dish involves shredded cabbage steamed in a pot of cooked onions, carrots, green peppers, tomatoes, garlic, ginger and curry powder (or turmeric powder). You can enjoy Ugandan curried cabbage by itself or as a side dish.
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