UGANDA FOOD | FOOD IN UGANDA

  • What do they eat in Uganda? | What Ugandan food is like?
  • Uganda traditional foods you should try during your visit
  • What are the drinks in Uganda?
  • Uganda Fruits: Fruits in Uganda

What do they eat in Uganda?| What Ugandan food is like?

Uganda food is one of those jewels that deepen your appreciation of this beautiful little country during your uganda safari.

The food in Uganda tastes different. While the same food can be found elsewhere, it won’t always taste as sumptuous as it does in Uganda. This is all due to the great weather conditions and fertile soils of Uganda that make the country tick.

People in different parts of Uganda grow different types of food ranging from grains, cereals, tubers, and fruits that grow in abundance and throughout the year.

Many of the popular crops in Uganda were introduced by foreigners, mainly the British, Asians (particularly Indians). Uganda traditional food is thus the result not only of its influence from the Ugandans, but mainly also from outsiders.

Initially, Indians entered Uganda as merchants from the coastal areas of the Indian Ocean in the 1800’s. While on their trip to Uganda, they carried their own food mainly wheat flour and rice.

The Indians introduced these foods to the people of Uganda they got to interact with. With time, there was a demand for rice just as was with wheat flour and the trade began.

Also, the British explorers, missionaries and colonial administrators, introduced their food and style of cooking in Uganda. As of today, this influence is all around. It has become a way of life.

Below are the different traditional foods in Uganda;

Although different tribes in Uganda have their own specialty dishes, the food of Uganda comprises overall of starch-heavy diet. The starch traditionally comes from;

  • Matooke (steamed and mashed green banana)

    Uganda food | Food in Uganda | Ugandan Food

    A Uganda Farmer in his Banana-Plantations

  • Posho (maize/corn meal)

  • Millet (an ugali-like dish made from millet in the North, west and East of the country)

  • Cassava

  • Sweet potatoes, and

  • Yams

The traditional Ugandan dishes are usually centered on a sauce/stew of;

  • Groundnuts (peanuts)

  • Beans

  • Meat

  • Chicken, and

  • Fish (Tilapia and Nile Perch are eaten most often).

Luwombo is a favorite traditional dish; a spicy stew steamed in banana leaves.

Katogo which means a mixture of ingredients is a traditional breakfast dish in Uganda.

Malewa is a   traditional dish from eastern Uganda (Bugisu), made from bamboo shoots.

Grasshoppers or Nsenene is another popular delicacy in some parts of Uganda, popular from March to April and October to December.

Rolex is a very unique Uganda food, a chapati rolled around an omelette.

Many Uganda dishes also include various vegetables such as;

  • CabbageUganda food | Food in Uganda | Ugandan Food

  • Onions

  • Pumpkins, and

  • Tomatoes

Uganda tropical fruits also always accompany Ugandan dishes; these include;

  • Avocados,

  • Watermelons,

  • Pineapples,

  • Mangoes,

  • Passion Fruits,

  • Papayas,

  • Oranges and others

Uganda traditional foods you should try during your visit

  1. Matoke

It wouldn’t be a list of Ugandan foods with matooke at the bottom. Steamed and mashed green bananas called matoke is Uganda’s national dish, eaten mostly in the Central-eastern and western regions of the country. In fact, you have not visited Uganda until you have a plate of Matoke

Rice and potatoes are eaten but matoke wins hands down. Ugandans especially those central Uganda have not had a good day unless they have eaten a large portion of Matoke. It estimated that each person consumes an average of 243 kg of matooke annually. That is about 0.6 kilogram per day!

It is not a rare feat for one to use the word food to mean matooke in central Uganda. Even a Buganda legend has it that, one of the first acts of the first man on earth, Kintu, was to plant a matoke tree for his descendants to enjoy.

Today, there are over 50 varieties of bananas in Uganda. Not all bananas are prepared as cooked food; some varieties are eaten raw upon ripening and other are used for making local beers (Mwenge) and wines (Mubisi). In the rural areas, one needs to plant a few matooke plants and he is able to have by him all he needs for food.

The matooke for cooking is the green-skinned kind you see on the roadside or in the market. Matoke appears in bunches and clusters of long green fingers. For food, they are peeled and wrapped in banana leaves and steamed.

It turns yellow when steamed and it is then mashed and served hot. Matooke, along with other small servings of rice, pumpkin, beans, peanut, fish or beef stew and some greens, is the main meal more often than not.

  1. Luwombo

Luwombo is a dish that is truly a Taste of Uganda. It is an authentic Ugandan food, one of the classic creations Baganda people in central Uganda have been perfecting for more than a century.

The Luwombo is a stew/paste that is prepared in the leaves of bananas and steamed to create a very attractive aroma. It is common with chicken, beef, smoked fish, goat meat, mushrooms or peanut paste plus chopped up vegetables, salt and water.

The time and skills involved in making this dish, the way it is presented, and wrapped in the banana leaf like a gift make it extra special.

Historically, this dish was a preserve of kings and princes in pre-colonial Buganda.

The dish was first introduced about 133 years ago, created by the personal chef of Kabaka (king) Mwanga of the Buganda Kingdom in 1887.

From then on, the Luwombo was used to be served to the kings, princes, Kabaka chiefs, and important visitors to the Kabaka. Today, Luwombo is a ceremonial dish mainly served at traditional wedding ceremonies and during holidays.

  1. Posho

Posho is another essential side dish in Uganda. You can call it a white cake that is served hot!

But, posho is simply fine, white maize/corn flour that is thoroughly mixed with boiling water in a saucepan and consistently stirred until it is firm.  It is one of those meals that makes your food stick to your ribs and helps you feel full for a long time

The word posho comes from the word portion because it is served in portions. The meal is commonly served along with a stew of beans, beef, peanuts, chicken, or goat.

Sometimes maize flour is mixed with cold water and then added to boiling water to produce white porridge for breakfast.

  1. Katogo

Katogo is a traditional breakfast dish in Uganda, and if you eat this Ugandan traditional breakfast, you probably won’t need to eat much else for the rest of the day.

Katogo is defined as a mixture of ingredients. The main ingredients of Katogo are matooke and a sauce (beef, offal, beans).

Initially, Katogo was perceived as a poor man’s dish. The poor man invented Katogo by combing diced cassava with beans.

The upper class later introduced matooke to replace cassava. It is currently available in several hotels and restaurants, served as breakfast.

  1. Groundnut Sauce−Peanut sauce

Groundnut sauce makes many Uganda food taste so yummy.

It is made from grinded sweet red peanuts or ground nuts into a creamy sauce.

They can be eaten plain or mixed with smoked fish, smoked meat, or mushrooms.

The sauce is often served with steamed matooke, rice, pumpkin, potatoes, and other Ugandan foods. This is a vegetarian dish can enjoy.

  1. Uganda fish

You may have tasted fish from different parts of the world, but if you haven’t tasted fish from Uganda’s lakes, you haven’t had the most delicious.

Uganda is a small country compared to most of the African countries but 26% of its land is occupied by water bodies. Lakes like Victoria, Kyoga, George, Edward and Albert are a source of various kinds of fish. Tilapia and Nile perch are the most common types of fish caught in Uganda.  One Nile Perch can weigh up 200 kg.

Others are silverfish, most of which are eaten in the central and eastern region of Uganda. Catfish and tiger fish are also caught in Uganda. You can enjoy your meal as a deep-fried fish and with vegetables or stewed fish for sauce with food.

  1. Muchomo

Muchomo is another Uganda food to try during your gastronomic adventures of Uganda. It means roasted meat of various kinds including;

  • Beef

  • Goat’s meat

  • Chicken

The word Mchomo is derived from the word “kuchoma” in Kiswahili, meaning to burn or to roast. In the evening, there are normally several people along the streets who prepare various kinds of meat for mchomo.

Ankole cattle and goat meat are the most preferred meat for Mchomo because they are more delicious and softer.

  1. Chapati

That staple bread in Uganda is Chapati. Almost in every town in Uganda you will come across a chapati stand. Chapatis are prepared using 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.

You can do all kinds of stuff with chapatis once cooked. You can eat them alone or with beans or soup, or sometimes with tea.

Chapattis were introduced by Indians in Uganda. Nowadays, the chapatti is the quintessential Ugandan street food to have. It’s very popular with Ugandans and visitors alike.

  1. Rolex food in Uganda

A Uganda rolex is a chapatti sandwiched with fried egg omelette along with tomato, onion, and cabbage. It can come with other ingredients as well.

The word “rolex” originates from its preparing process, with the chapati and the omelette rolled together.

It is one of those favorite and most affordable fast foods in Uganda, especially in urban centers. The Rolex is very quick to prepare and street vendors make them before your eyes at their stands.  It can be eaten at any time of the day; breakfast, lunch, or supper.

This dish originated from the inventiveness of a chapati seller in the area of Busoga and then spread to Wandegeya next to Makerere University in Uganda, fueled by students who, due to time and budget constraints, wanted a fast meal.

  1. Nseenene−Grasshoppers

Nsenene is a small insect, closely related to a bush cricket, and it is one of the unusual delicacies you can try while in Uganda.

Eating the Ugandan fried Nsenene snack has been compared to munching on crispy chicken skin.

How are they prepared? There is no slaughtering process when preparing Nsenene. They are fried alive after plucking off their wings, antennas and legs

In Buganda, Nseenene traditionally were collected by children and women. They were then given to the husbands of the women in return for a new Gomesi (a traditional dress for women).

Though women were made to do the treacherous work of collecting Nsenene in the bush, they were never allowed to eat them.  

It was believed that women who consume Nseenene would bear children with deformed heads like those of Nsenene. Nowadays, Nseenene are consumed by women in Buganda.

You can only get this popular snack during the rainy season. There are two Nseenene seasons in Uganda; March to April and October to December.