Uganda is a diverse country. Most tribes in Uganda have their own specialty dish. Most of Uganda’s dishes comprise of green vegetables, potatoes, yams, bananas and other tropical fruits. Chicken, pork, fish, beef, goat and mutton are all commonly eaten, although among the rural poor people, meats are consumed less than in other areas. For visitors to Uganda, you can try out some of the Ugandan Food during your safari in Uganda and there is a growing number of local community tour programmes in the country. Here are the 5 best traditional foods not to miss in Uganda;
Oluwombo is a traditional Ugandan stew dish made from chicken, beef, mushrooms or fish, groundnuts or any other sauce which is tied up in steamed in banana leaves. It is both a royal dish and a fairly common dish cooked especially during the holidays. It is said to have been created in 1887, by Kabaka Mwanga’s personal chef in the Buganda kingdom during the 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 a special dish for many reasons including the way it is presented; wrapped in leaves like a gift. This is a traditional food is mainly served in the central part of Uganda of Buganda kingdom. The food is mainly served on traditional parties such as kwanjura (introduction) and Kuhingira (give away). It is a very honored and respected food in Buganda kingdom.
Akaro or Millet
Kalo is a delicacy among the ethnic agrarian tribes in the western part of Uganda for example the Bakiga, Banyankole, Batooro and Banyoro as well as some tribes from eastern part of Uganda. Millet is a tiny bead shaped grain that must be husked then winnowed and finally stone ground after harvest; but first it is meticulously weeded. The Bagisu tribe has a saying if a task is particularly difficult – it is said to be “like weeding millet.” Since the grain is dried on the ground after reaping, good millet should be sand free when cooked. Kalo is becoming ever more popular every day, not only for its beneficial nutrients but also due to the new craze in traditional foods.
It is cooked similar to posho but has a higher protein content and heavier taste. It is dark brown in color and is called millet “bread” when mingled although the texture is sticking rather than bread like. It is especially delicious served with peanut sauce containing smoked fish. Millet flour can also be boiled in water for a nutritious porridge best served with milk and sugar
In a family setting, the kalo is served differently especially in Ankole. There is a special basket (endiiro) used by the head of the family and other baskets for the rest of the family members. It is good to leave the kalo covered up for 10-15 minutes before serving so that it tastes tender. Some people will even pass it over their head before chewing it but they have to ensure they don’t allow it to get cold. After mixing and squeezing the kalo into a dome, a basket matching the size of this dome is prepared. Raw flour is sprinkled onto the walls of the basket before the entire blob of kalo is hurled into the basket. The raw flour is meant to prevent the Kalo from sticking onto the basket’s walls.
Posho or Kawunga also known as Ugali in Kenya, 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. It is not sweet or savory but instead takes on the flavor of whatever soup it is served with. Posho is made up of white corn flour mixed with boiling water until it becomes solid. It is not easy to cook as it must be “mingled” thoroughly and becomes stiff while mixing. This heavy food is prized for its “fill you up” ability and it doesn’t have to be peeled, washed, sorted or soaked like some other things. Maize is relatively easy to grow and there are grinding mills in every village so people in Uganda prefer to grow their own corn and then have it into flour as needed. The flour can also be obtained in large quantities already milled. It is used by all boarding schools as their main staple food.
These are green bananas but not plantain boiled or steamed (mashed) cooked in or served with a sauce of peanuts, beans fresh fish or meat. There are a variety of bananas in Uganda, some are used to make juice while others are for food. Matooke is the type that is picked green and must be cooked. It is usually steamed in its own leaves and must be eaten hot as it hardens quickly when cooled. At times, it is prepared in different ways mixed up with some soup like Gnuts. It is very expensive and is only grown in certain areas of the country. It takes a special skill to peel the bananas and this tends to be an indicator of a woman’s skills in general. It is mashed after steaming and served hot before hardening. Like rice, Matooke is a must for every special occasion.
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.