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We all enjoy going on vacations. There’s sightseeing, meeting new people, taking tours, and, of course, numerous Instagram postings. The cuisine, though, is the finest part of all. Tasting new delicacies from around the world, there are so many new cuisines and dishes to try in different parts of the world that you would never think about.
Today, we’ll be talking about Ugandan dishes you must try whenever you’re in Uganda. These dishes are local dishes made from tradition dated way back, and till date are still our absolute favorite.
What to Know About Uganda
Uganda is a landlocked country in East Africa whose diverse landscape encompasses the snow-capped Rwenzori Mountains and immense Lake Victoria. Its abundant wildlife includes chimpanzees as well as rare birds. Remote Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is a renowned mountain gorilla sanctuary. Murchison Falls National Park in the northwest is known for its 43m-tall waterfall and wildlife such as hippos.
The official languages are English and Swahili. Uganda’s official language is English, which is spoken by most educated Ugandans. The three major indigenous language families are Bantu, Central Sudanic, and Nilotic. Swahili and Luganda are also widely spoken.
Ugandan tourism is centered on the country’s landscape and animals. It is a key source of employment, investment, and foreign cash, accounting for 4.9 trillion Ugandan shillings (US$1.88 billion or €1.4 billion as of August 2013) in Uganda’s GDP. Tourist attractions in Uganda include national game parks, game reserves, traditional sites, and natural tropical forests. Traditional occasions like Mbalu in eastern Uganda, boat riding, waterfalls etc.
Uganda is a melting pot of different cultures and traditions. It was named the most diverse country on earth by a study from Harvard University. If you want to see the ‘real’ Uganda, you must incorporate cultural safaris or at the very least a visit to the local community, either for an overnight stay or a few hours to learn about their culture, participate in music and dance, or simply enjoy the food.
Food is an essential element of any trip, whether it’s around the world or just across town. We all like the security of knowing there will be familiar cuisines as well as the excitement of tasting new ones wherever we go.
In an article written by a Ugandan teacher, he shares insight into the country’s mealtime customs. “Matoke is a staple cuisine in Uganda (cooking bananas). Cassava (manioc), sweet potatoes, white potatoes, yams, beans, peas, groundnuts (peanuts), cabbage, onions, pumpkins, and tomatoes are among the other food crops. Oranges, pawpaws (papayas), lemons, and pineapples are among the fruits farmed”.
“Except for a few city dwellers, most people grow their own food. Women and girls in the home are primarily responsible for making the family’s meals. Men and boys over the age of 12 are not allowed to sit in the kitchen, which is separate from the rest of the house. Cooking takes place over an open fire with wood as fuel”.
Apart from its native cuisines, Uganda has adopted a range of continental cuisines especially Indian, Chinese and Italian with restaurants like Fang Fang, Mediterraneo, Cantine Divino, La Cabana, and The Great Indian Dhaba among others serving a variety of international and vegetarian dishes.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the national dish of Uganda?
Matooke is considered the national dish of Uganda. This is a plantain or banana dish usually wrapped in leaves.
What to eat for dinner and breakfast in Uganda?
Basically, any local Ugandan dish can be eaten as both breakfast and dinner. Here is a list of a few;
- Roasted peanuts
- Ugali porride
- Mandazi: Ugali porridge and mandazi are popular breakfast meals in Uganda.
How to cook local food in Uganda?
Most Ugandan dishes are prepared using the steaming method, as a result, you’ll be needing pressure pots and steamers. Water or oil is used as a medium in moist heat cooking. To cook the meal, heat is provided to the medium. Dry cooking methods use heat to cook the food, such as baking, grilling, and roasting.
What are the most popular Ugandan dishes?
Well, the body of this article is the very answer to this question. We have;
- Matooke which is the country’s national dish
- Ugandan rolex
Here are 13 top Ugandan dishes you should try when visiting:
Matoke (or Matooke) refers to the plantain or plantain banana, which is a staple crop in Uganda. Plantain bananas are frequently wrapped in plantain leaves and cooked in Uganda. You can make this dish with or without meat. The plantains and Bananas can also be mashed and boiled.
Matoke is locally also known as matooke, amatooke in Buganda (Central Uganda), ekitookye in southwestern Uganda, ekitooke in western Uganda, ebitooke in northwestern Tanzania, igitoki in Rwanda, and by the cultivar name East African Highland banana.
Matoke and beef stew is one of the most popular current trending foods in the globe. It’s easy to make, quick to prepare, and great to eat. Every day, millions of people enjoy it.
This Ugandan dish is usually prepared with a handful of spices. It can be prepared with beans, peanut sauce, and beef stew. It is prepared by boiling plantain for about 10 minutes then peel the skin after it must have cooled down.
The sauce is prepared separately by frying a mixture of onions, cumin, garlic, ginger, chopped tomatoes, and beans. Vegetable stock or water, and chili flakes are poured into the fry and allowed to simmer for about 10 minutes. Afterward, the boiled plantains are added and allowed to simmer for 5 minutes then mashed using a wooden spoon.
This is a traditional Ugandan dish, in which a stew of chicken, beef, mushrooms, or fish is steamed in banana leaves.
This Ugandan dish has long been prepared at home for special occasions. Today, Ugandans are turning to restaurants to avoid the hours-long preparation, but the dish is as popular as ever. This Ugandan dish is believed to have been created by Kabaka Mwanga’s (the last independent kabaka (ruler) of the African kingdom of Buganda) personal chef in the late 19th century in the Buganda Kingdom.
It can be prepared using any kind of meat; Chicken, pork, beef, or goat meat. Usually prepared by spicing the meat with cinnamon and ginger then put to boil. When tender, drain the water, add pasta and other desired spices. The meat mixed with the spices is then wrapped with smoked banana leaves. The wraps are then placed in foil and baked for about 30 minutes.
Posho is a semi-hard cornmeal porridge that is the traditional basic dish in Uganda. and it is served as an accompaniment to meat, fish, or vegetable stews. It is a similar dish as Ugali in Tanzania, Shima in Mozambique, Pap in South Africa, and Namibia.
This Ugandan dish, is a type of maize, millet, or cassava flour porridge. To eat Posho, pull off a small ball of mush with your fingers. Form an indentation with your thumb, and use it to scoop up accompanying stews and other dishes. Or you can form larger balls with your hands or an ice cream scoop, place them in individual serving bowls, and spoon stew around them.
Posho can be eaten with any sauce but is best enjoyed with fresh beans.
Kikomando is a Ugandan dish consisting of chapati and beans. It is a variant of the Rolex (a popular food in Uganda, combining an egg omelet and veggies wrapped in a chapati).
Kikomando is prepared by slicing Ugandan chapati (which differs from Indian chapati in that it is made with all-purpose flour rather than whole wheat flour) with fried beans. Other kikomando varieties include avocado, meat stew, gravy, chicken, or liver, in addition to fried beans. This dish can be found in both street food booths and high-end restaurants throughout the country. It is popular among university students because of its affordability as a meal.
5. Ugandan Rolex
Rolex is a popular street food/snack in Uganda. It is rated as one of the cheapest and tastiest meals in Uganda, which makes it extremely popular, loved especially by Campus students. The name “Rolex” comes from its method of preparation, with the chapati and the omelet rolled together (“rolled eggs”).
This Ugandan dish is made out of an omelet wrapped in a chapati (an unleavened flatbread). It’s a little like a wrap. Others add carrots and bell pepper to the omelet, which is fried with onions, tomatoes, and cabbage. The dish is delicious! It’s so simple to prepare and takes so little time that you won’t be standing long for it to be ready.
As this dish is easy and quick to prepare, it is eaten at any time of the day, from breakfast to lunch, supper meal, or as a snack.
The idea behind this Ugandan dish originated from a chapati seller’s creativity in the Busoga region “the basoga” then the idea spread to Wandegeya next to Makerere University in Uganda, fueled by students who needed a quick meal because of time and budget limitations. The delicacy soon spread throughout Uganda. It became a popular food choice for its combination of convenience, low cost, and taste.
Nswaa is a traditional Ugandan snack that is prepared using termites and spices. Termites and spices are used to make Nswaa, a traditional Ugandan snack. This Ugandan dish is a nutrient-dense food with high protein content. Termites are popular during the rainy season, and those who have had the opportunity to catch them know that they are not to be missed. Many people enjoy the food because of its excellent nutritional value.
It is served similarly to nsenene, another delicious Ugandan dish, but made of white ants. On the other hand, Nsenene consists of fried grasshoppers to which salt is added.
This Ugandan dish is served both in street food stalls and in some restaurants. White ants are a real candy treat for the little ones and an exquisite treat for the more discerning palates.
Katogo is a Ugandan dish, consisting of fried or boiled plantain bananas eaten with broth, beans, meat, and vegetables. This Uganda dish is commonly referred to as a poor man’s meal, and it is mostly consumed for breakfast by construction workers and laborers around Uganda, but it is increasingly being served in high-end restaurants and private houses.
If you start your day with a traditional Ugandan breakfast, you won’t need to eat anything else for the remainder of the day. This Ugandan dish is a simple dish made from boiling Matooke, a green banana that is a primary food crop in Uganda, or occasionally “Irish potatoes.” It can be served with a sauce of curried onions and tomatoes, beans, groundnut stew, or my personal favorite, tripe.
Malewa dish, a traditional Ugandan meal made with bamboo shoots, is a must-try. To give the dish a particular flavor, the shoots are air-dried and smoked. It’s then combined with salt and groundnut sauce to form a delicious sauce that goes well with plantains, sweet potatoes, and cassava.
Malewa itself in Uganda, means smoked bamboo shoot which is dried for preservation. The bamboo trees grow in the wild in eastern Uganda around Mt. Elgon.
This Ugandan dish is widely known for it’s numerous benefits.Bamboo shoots are high in phenolic acid, which protects against heart complications and has anti-cancer properties. They can be juiced to treat ulcers and other gastrointestinal problems. They’re high in dietary fiber, which helps with digestion and weight loss.
Chapati is a lovely unleavened flat bread popular in East Africa, particularly in Burundi, Uganda, Mozambique, and Kenya. It has a delightful but mild flavor, which makes it easy to match with practically any dish, sweet or savory, making it a versatile side dish staple.
You may also find this sort of flat bread referred to as — roti; in fact, the two terms are frequently interchanged, despite the fact that chapati is a variety of roti.
It is similar to but different from the Indian chapati in that it is made from white or all-purpose flour and is coiled up. The coil’s function is to make a light, flaky chapati. The upper layers are delicately coated with oil to give it a sharp edge that distinguishes it from Indian Chapati. Though it began as an import from Indian Settlers, it has since become a part of East African culinary history.
Chapati can be served with various dishes, including curries, dry sabjis, chutneys, or dal.
10. Groundnut Sauce (Binyebwa)
Groundnuts are a vital staple and groundnut sauce is probably the most commonly eaten one. They are eaten plain or mixed with smoked fish, smoked meat or mushrooms, and can also be mixed with greens such as borr. Typically, this Ugandan dish is eaten simple or with matooke (boiled and mashed plantains). It goes well with greens as well.
To prepare this delicious nut sauce, traditionally roasted peanuts are ground till smooth and creamy in a stone grinder. However, store-bought peanut butter is an excellent substitute and time saver.
11. Kikalayi (Fried Pork)
Pork is very popular in Uganda. Every trading center and the town has at least one ‘pork joint,’ a gathering spot for beers, fried pigs, and all the fixings, and it’s not uncommon to see complete pig ears, snouts, or even just the face of a pig being roasted and sold on the side of the road by street vendors.
Until you’ve tried ‘kikalaya,’ you haven’t had pork. The title is derived from the status’s massive and secretly built cooking skillet.
Kikalayi tastes better when shared with others, which is why it’s usually served on a large round platter (with optional red bean stew). If you like pork, you’ll love kikalayi.
Chickennat is a traditional Ugandan recipe for a typical chicken and onion stew thickened with peanut butter and egg yolks and cooked in chicken stock broth.
This Ugandan dish is traditionally prepared with whole bone-in chicken pieces but one can substitute the bone-in for boneless skinless chicken breasts to make the dish quicker to prepare and healthier.
It is usually enjoyed as a lunchtime dish in Uganda and is regularly eaten by natives of Uganda on independence day (09 October).
13. Ugandan Curried Cabbage
To prepare this Ugandan dish, Shredded cabbage is steamed with sautéed onions, carrots, green peppers, tomatoes, garlic, ginger, and curry powder in a saucepan (or turmeric powder). Ugandan curry cabbage is delicious on its own or as a side dish.