Ugandan Eats

Today’s post is all about the food we eat here in Uganda! In short, all five of us agree that we have been fed SO well since day one. Because we stay with Pamela in her house, we are served home-cooked meals every single day.

A typical breakfast of tea, g-nut butter and jam sandwich, and roasted cassava.

A typical breakfast of tea, g-nut butter and jam sandwich, and roasted cassava.

Breakfast is always bread, jam, g-nut butter (Ugandan equivalent of peanut butter), bananas, and tea. Sometimes we get eggs and roasted cassava, which tastes a lot like breakfast potatoes. We always eat a big breakfast in preparation for our long days in the field.

Ugandan cuisine is very carb-centric. Every meal consists of something starchy as the main dish, accompanied with vegetables and sometimes a meat dish. These are examples of typical lunches we have in the Pamela house:

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malakwang

The rice here is really good and fluffy. Sometimes it is cooked with diced carrots mixed in. Alongside the rice, some examples of the side dishes we have (pictured on top) are okra, spinach, plantains, and beef. The beef is cooked in a stew, which is delicious mixed in with the rice. On the bottom is another lunch plate with rice, cowpeas, and scrambled eggs mixed with greens, white-fleshed sweet potato, and malakwang.

Malakwang is my personal favorite Ugandan food. It is a thick dip made with malakwang leaves, tomatoes, and g-nut paste. The leaves have a naturally sour flavor and gritty texture, which interestingly yet perfectly complements the buttery g-nut paste. My favorite way to eat malakwang  is with sweet potato; it tastes absolutely divine!

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For dinner, we often have rice and beans, which is a favorite for both Menaka and Conner. Another staple is chipathi, a flat Ugandan bread that looks and tastes a lot like Indian roti. On the right, the dinner plate also includes eggplant, pasta, and slices of mango and avocado.

The avocados here are amazing and tastier than any avocado I’ve had anywhere else. The flesh is extremely creamy and even a bit sweet. They even look different – the skin is smooth and the fruit itself is monstrous in size.

Ugandan avocado.

Ugandan avocado.

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During the first week here we decided to use these gorgeous avocados to make guacamole. We gathered in the kitchen and made a huge batch, which we ate with chipathi, chips (that’s what they call French fries here), and a refreshing cabbage salad.

A Ugandan-Mexican fusion dinner.

A Ugandan-Mexican fusion dinner.

Our lovely creation.

Our lovely creation.

And let’s not forget the mangoes. Oh my god the mangoes. We eat them right off the trees that we sit under during our field visits. When the wind blows, some of the riper mangoes fall right out of the trees, ready to be gathered and eaten.

A batch of freshly picked ripe mangoes.

A batch of freshly picked ripe mangoes.

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Remnants.

These are smaller and sweeter than the mangoes we eat in the US. The best way to eat these is to bite and peel off the skin, and then sink your teeth into the juicy flesh. Conner is the biggest fan of these mangoes:

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Fresh mango juice is always stocked in the Pamela house fridge. It is made from scratch, with a very thick consistency like mango lassi. I watched the juice-making process, and it is definitely exhaustive. First the mangoes are pureed, and the puree is then strained slowly into a separate container.

Juicing.

Juicing.

Another one of the best things I’ve tried here is actually the roasted corn on the cob served on the streetside. It literally tastes like popcorn on a cob. The kernels are crunchy on the outside and slightly chewy on the inside, with a smoky taste unlike the sweet corn I have normally eaten elsewhere.

Street food.

Street food.

All in all, we have been eating exceedingly well during our trip. Honestly, I did not expect to have such a wide variety of delicious and rich foods in Uganda. The dishes mentioned in this post don’t even encapsulate the entire list food we have tried. When we were sharing our favorite Ugandan foods earlier today, we realized that among the five of us we listed pretty much every single dish we’ve been served here.

[stolen from last year's GROW team]

Stove. [stolen from last year’s GROW team]

And of course, the credit must be given to Doreen and Sharon, who cook all the food for us at home. They start preparing meals literally hours before eating time. Furthermore, the cooking is done in a small kitchen atop a tiny stove. Despite this, every time we are told that the food is ready, we excitedly enter the kitchen to find the table laden with a big selection of wonderful dishes that we eagerly consume. In the coming weeks, we will be learning how to cook a few of these Ugandan staples. Stay tuned for some recipes in a future post!

GROW team out.

-Diane Wang

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3 responses to “Ugandan Eats

  1. We have so much to learn from Uganda. The fresh fruits and vegetables that form the basis of the diet and care taken in meal preparation are for too uncommon in the United States, especially for families where people work outside the home, often in more than one job. Thanks for reminding us of the importance of cooking and eating locally grown food and sharing together in meals. Gratefully, Mary

  2. The way to a person’s heart~always through food 🙂 Great descriptions and photos. I would love to get in touch w/you Diane. My daughter will be going to Uganda in May. Please email me so I can ask a few questions. T h a n k s! Susan

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