A spectacular travel and tourism is not complete without good food. Travel is an adventurous way of learning about different cultures and people. Dining out is common among tourists and “food is believed to rank alongside climate, accommodation, and scenery” in importance to tourists. Food is as diverse as every society in the world where we have special food amongst distinctive cultures. Food is also related to ceremonies and events as well giving an opportunity for tourists to learn the social significance of certain foods to their respective communities.
The Ugandan food picture is as interesting as one will find out on safari or on various community visits. The country having tens of cultures therefore is well endowed with many different native dishes ranging from the staples to the occasional dishes. Here are some of the most prominent foods in Uganda.
Matooke is arguably the most famous Ugandan dish. It is a staple dish throughout the many cultures and is made from banana fingers. It is prepared in different ways both simple and intricate. In Buganda matooke is a respected dish and is prepared with so much art and care. It is a norm for all women and girls in Buganda to know how to peel and prepare the dish to the ultimate satisfaction of their husbands. Matooke is eaten mostly with ground nut source, beans, beef stew, chicken stew and any other sauce.
Millet bread is a staple food in Northern Uganda, eastern Uganda and western Uganda. it is fondly referred to as “kalo” or “akaro”. Millet flour is mixed with cassava flour in varying proportions and mingled using boiling water. The difference in taste, aroma and appearance of this dish is determined by the proportions in which the flours are mixed. In some cultures like Tooro kingdom in western Uganda, the dish is a must for many traditional ceremonies such as child naming, visitations and marriage. Millet bread is also eaten with many sauces such groundnut source, beans, meat, vegetable sauce and mushroom sauce.
Malakwang is a Northern Uganda dish made from leafy vegetables and ground nuts. Initially the dish was a reserve for times of droughts and food scarcity. It is now a famous dish eaten with many other foods such as millet bread and sweet potatoes.
Bamboo shoots (malewa)
The Bagisu in Eastern Uganda have a special dish know as malewa. Malewa is a vegetable soup made from tender mountain bamboo shoots. It can be steamed, fried, mixed with groundnut paste or fish or eaten as a vegetable. The Bagisu used to trek to the forests of Mount Elgon during bamboo shoot growing season, to harvest and dry the shoots.
This is a traditional dish comprised of sauce steamed in banana leaves. Locally know as “luwombo”, it is a special dish that graces important cultural ceremonies such as weddings, introductions, visitations and other festivals. The most common sauces prepared in “luwombo” include chicken sauce, groundnut sauce and meat.
This is one of the most tasty and truly traditional dishes prepared in Uganda. There are also many more fascinating dishes in the many cultures of Uganda which you will discover on community visits around the country. Most of these foods can be found in many local hotels and lodges in the respective areas. It is always a great way to compound a safari experience by having a taste of the local dishes.
Talk of Ugandan food is not complete without mentioning probably the weirdest dish of grasshoppers. These come a plenty in their annual migratory November season. The streets of most towns are often awash with vendors selling the insects which are a delicacy to many Ugandans even though some people find it disgusting to eat them.
Always remember to look out for and learn about different foods in the different cultures around the world especially when on tour.