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Ugandan cuisine consists of traditional and modern cooking styles, practices, foods and dishes in Uganda, with English, Arab, and Asian (especially Indian) influences. Like the cuisines of most countries, it varies in complexity, from the most basic, a starchy filler with a sauce of beans or meat, to several-course meals served in upper-class homes and high-end restaurants.
Most tribes in Uganda have their own speciality dish or delicacy. Many dishes include various vegetables, potatoes, yams, bananas and other tropical fruits. Chicken, fish (usually fresh, but there is also a dried variety, reconstituted for stewing), beef, goat and mutton are all commonly eaten, although among the rural poor, meats are consumed less than in other areas and mostly eaten in the form of bushmeat. Nyama is the Swahili word for "meat".
Main dishes are usually centered on a sauce or stew of groundnuts, beans or meat. The starch traditionally comes from ugali (maize meal) or matooke (boiled and mashed green banana) in the South, or an ugali-like dish made from millet in the North. Ugali is cooked up into a thick porridge for breakfast.
For main meals, white flour is added to the saucepan and stirred into the ugali until the consistency is firm. It is then turned out onto a serving plate and cut into individual slices (or served onto individual plates in the kitchen). Cassava, yam, and African sweet potato are also eaten; the more affluent include white (often called "Irish") potato and rice in their diets. Soybeans were promoted as a healthy food staple in the 1970s and this is also used, especially for breakfast. Chapati, an Asian flatbread, is also part of Ugandan cuisine.
Fruits and vegetables
Various leafy greens are grown in Uganda. These may be boiled in the stews, or served as side dishes in fancier homes. Amaranth (dodo), nakati, and borr are examples of regional greens. Fruits such as bananas and pineapples are plentiful and commonly consumed; cooked in foods, eaten as snacks or as a dessert.
Some traditional food names
Some traditional and historic Ugandan foods include:
- 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 sort of ugali made from millet (called kalo in Western Uganda) but in other regions like eastern Uganda they include cassava flour.
- Groundnuts (peanuts) - 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.
- Sim-sim (sesame) - A staple particularly in the north, roasted sesame paste is mixed into a stew of beans or greens and served as a side dish, though sesame paste may also be served as a condiment; a candy is made from roasted sesame seeds with sugar or honey.
- Matooke - Mashed plantain boiled or cooked in a sauce of peanuts, fresh fish, and/or meat
- Luwombo - A traditional dish from Uganda, in which a stew of either chicken, beef, mushrooms or fish is steamed in banana leaves
- Malewa - A traditional dish from eastern Uganda (Bugisu), made from bamboo shoots
- Roasted groundnuts (peanuts) - served in a spill of paper
- Samusa (samousa, samosa) - Indian samosas are highly assimilated into the local cuisine, as are chapati and curry
- Mugati naamaggi (bread and eggs) - Originally an Arab dish, it's wheat dough spread into a thin pancake, filled with minced meat and raw egg, and then folded into a neat parcel and fried on a skillet or hotplate.
- Nsenene - an unusual food item, which is a seasonal delicacy of a type of grasshopper
- Nswaa - served similarly to nsenene but made of white ant, a termite
- Rolex - a chapati filled with eggs, onions, tomatoes, cabbage or kale, and sometimes minced meat
Additional Ugandan foods
Nakati, Ethiopian eggplant
Tea (chai) and coffee (kawa) are popular beverages and important cash crops. These can be served English-style or spiced (chai masala). Coca-cola, Pepsi and Fanta all made inroads in the Ugandan market and soft drinks became very popular. Both traditional and Western beers are probably the most widely available alcoholic beverages across Uganda.
Pombe and lubisi are generic words for locally made fermented beer, usually from banana or millet. Fermented banana wine is also prepared and consumed. Tonto is a traditional fermented drink made from bananas. Waragi is the generic term for distilled spirits and these also vary, see for example Uganda Waragi, a brand name for clear or yellow gin.