Ugandan cuisine

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The cuisine of Uganda (in Swahili, chakula) consists of traditional cooking with English, Arab and Asian (especially Indian) influences. Like the cuisines of most countries, it varies in complexity, from the most basic, a carbohydrate main course served with a sauce of beans or meat, to several-course meals served in upper-class homes and high-end restaurants.

Main dishes are usually centred on a “one pot” sauce or stew of groundnuts, beans or meat. The starch traditionally comes from ugali (maize meal) or matoke (boiled and mashed green banana), in the South, or an ugali made from millet in the North. Cassava, yam and African sweet potato are also eaten; those with means include white (often called "Irish") potato and rice in their diets. Soybean was promoted as a healthy food staple in the 1970s and this is also used, especially as a breakfast porridge. Chapati, an Asian flatbread, is also part of Ugandan cuisine.

Chicken, fish (usually fresh, but there is also a dried variety, reconstituted for stewing), beef, goat, lamb and mutton are all commonly eaten, although among the rural poor, slaughtering a large animal such as a goat or a cow is generally reserved for festive occasions and nyama (the Swahili word for "meat") is not eaten every day

Various leafy greens are grown in Uganda. These may be boiled in the stews, or served as side dishes in fancier homes. Dodo and borr are examples of regional greens.

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).

Fruits are plentiful and regularly eaten, as in the Western World, as snacks or dessert. Europeans introduced cake and this is also popular.

Some traditional food names

  • Chapati - Indian flatbread now eaten throughout East Africa.
  • Groundnut - peanuts are a vital staple and groundnut sauce is probably the most commonly eaten one.
    • Kuku - chicken -
  • Mchele - rice
  • Nyama – meat
    • Nyama ya ngombe –beef
    • Nyama ya mbuzi - goat
  • Sim-sim - sesame - used particularly in the north, roasted sesame paste is mixed into a stew of beans or greens and served as a side dish, sesame paste may be served as a condiment; a candy is made from roasted sesame seeds with sugar or honey.
  • Somaki -fish
  • Ugali - usually from maize but also other starches, regional names include posho and kwon. Ugandan expatriates make ugali from cornmeal, masa harina or grits.


  • roasted groundnuts served in a spill of paper
  • samusa (samousa, samosa) -- Indian samosas have been complete assimilated into the local cuisine, as have chapati and curry
  • nsenene is an unusual food item: a seasonal delicacy of a type of grasshopper. It is usually sauted with mild spices, but can be dried and saved for months.
  • nswaa served similarly to nsenene but made of white ant. Dried nswaa can be used to make a sauce.


Both traditional and western beers are probably the most widely available alcoholic beverage across Uganda. Pombe is the generic word for locally made fermented beer, usually from banana or millet. 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.

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 soda became very popular.