Ugali is like porridge but much more densely made from white maize meal or maize flour. It is the staple diet of the indigenous people of East Africa.
    Also known as Nsima it is generally enjoyed with a vegetable and/or meat stew. People at the coast and around Lake Victoria enjoy it with fish. One of the easiest dishes to prepare, it is not only rich in fiber but also is a good source of carbohydrates, minerals, and Vitamin B. And it is gluten-free and vegan friendly.

    What is Ugali?

    According to Wikipedia, The dish was one of a few foods included in the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2017. It is also known as sima,a hard maize flour porridge popular in Africa. Sima is produced from a variety of flours, including millet and sorghum flours, and is sometimes combined with cassava flour.
    It is usually cooked until it reaches a stiff or firm dough-like consistency in boiling water or milk and it is served with nyama choma which is grilled meat and kachumbari, a tomato onion salad.

    Countries That Eat Ugali

    Ugali is a rich porridge and an important part of the East African indigenous people’s diet. In Kenya, this prevalent staple dish, ugali, or nsima, is typically served with a vegetable and/or meat stew. Other names it is known for include; sadza, nsima, or posho.

    Ugali, arguably Africa’s most popular food, is consumed in Nigeria, Uganda, Kenya, Botswana, Tanzania, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Although cornmeal is the most common flour used, other flours such as millet and sorghum are also used.

    In most households generally in West Africa, ugali is the main course, with vegetables or meat as side dishes. It is eaten with an abundance of flavorful vegetables and meats in a spicy gravy in wealthy houses or for special occasions. It’s also similar to the mashed potatoes that are commonly offered in American households.

    Varieties of Ugali

    Known as Ugali in Kenya and Tanzania, this starchy, polenta-like side dish goes by different names in sub-Saharan Africa. In Malawi and Zambia, it is called Nsima or Nshima. The South African name for it is pap or mealie pap. Zimbabweans call it sadza.

    It is usually served as an accompaniment to meat or vegetable stews, greens, or soured milk. To eat it, 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.

    Ugali Recipe

    Made from maize flour which has been cooked with water until reaching a consistency similar to that of dough, the ugali is the most common staple food in the region.

    It is traditionally eaten with the hands. Like flat bread in other countries, ugali can be used as a sort of ‘scoop’ to pick up meat and vegetables. When it is not dipped in a stew, it is dipped in a sauce.

    How Long Does Ugali Take to Cook

    Boil water, after boiling add the maize flour as you do with regular ugali. After adding the unga stir the ugali flour until it is firm. Cover and allow to steam for 10 minutes.

    Facts About Preparing This Dish

    • White cornmeal is the most commonly used grain for this recipe.
    • But you can substitute sorghum, millet or coarse cassava flour, or even hominy grits.
    • More or less water can be added to achieve the consistency you prefer.
    • Most Africans would not salt the water, so you can leave the salt out if you wish.
    • Stir in a little butter for a richer flavor.

    Below is the step-by-step recipe on how to make this easy recipe. If you make it don’t forget to leave a comment. Enjoy!


    Prep Time 30 minutes
    Cook Time 50 minutes


    • 4 cups Water
    • 1 tsp Salt
    • 2 cups White cornmeal finely ground


    • Bring the water and salt to a boil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan.
    • Stir in the cornmeal slowly, letting it fall through the fingers of your hand.
    • Reduce heat to medium-low and continue stirring regularly, smashing any lumps with a spoon, until the mush pulls away from the sides of the pot and becomes very thick, about 10 minutes.
    • Remove from heat and allow to cool somewhat.
    • Place the Ugali into a large serving bowl.
    • Wet your hands with water, form into a ball, and serve.
    Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

    Subscribe For Latest Updates

    Sign up now to receive updates on our latest recipes and articles, and take on our challenging quiz weekly.

    Invalid email address
    We promise not to spam you. You can unsubscribe at any time.

    You'll also love