Food specialities in Uganda originate from a mixture of flavours which, in turn, originate from the Arabic, Asian and English cultures. As the country is predominantly agricultural, the ingredients for its dishes are of good quality, which makes their traditional dishes very tasty and healthy.
Most of the population grows its own food, apart from those who live in towns. However, by tradition, the creation of traditional Ugandan dishes mainly falls to the women. Ingredients are varied and you will find fish, different types of meat, yucca, soya, vegetables and other produce such as fruits and nuts.
Below, we outline the more traditional and typical dishes to eat when in Uganda. This may not be as easy as you think, keeping in mind that you can find anything from the Hindu samosas right up to white ants.
Without a shadow of a doubt, this is the most famous traditional dish to eat in Uganda. It consists of a stew of chicken and green bananas, seasoned with different spices. To make this dish, a puree is made with the bananas and this is mixed with the chicken and with different vegetables. To prepare it, green pepper, onions, garlic, coriander, curry, ginger, chillies and milk are used. The resulting dish has a delicious flavour and you will be able to try it anywhere in the country.
Another traditional gastronomic dish from Uganda is Luwombo, also known as Oluwombo. Initially, this dish was only prepared for royalty, but today it is part of traditional Ugandan cooking. Chicken, goat or beef meat is used to prepare it. This is slowly cooked in banana leaves over a low heat. The special touch is added by the peanut sauce, which enhances the flavours of the meat chosen for this delicious dish even more.
Ugali is traditional in all the regions of East Africa and is one of the most basic traditional dishes to eat in Uganda. Maize flour is used to prepare it. This is made into a kind of paste or ball which is used to accompany fish or vegetables. It can be served both hot or cold, and if you let it harden, you can serve it cut into pieces.
Without a doubt this is the most unusual dish, as it consists of fried grasshoppers to which salt is added. This is something you can eat in Uganda, if you dare to try something that is truly different. You can find them on street food stalls, as they have become very popular. To prepare them, the legs, antennae and wings are removed before frying. This dish is not suitable for supporters of animal rights, but it is part of the tradition and culture of this country.
We continue with the mini beasts theme and, on this occasion, fried white ants are another dish to try in Uganda, both in street food stalls and in some restaurants. White ants are a real candy treat for the little ones, and an exquisite treat for the more discerning palates.
Mkate Na Mayai
This recipe has Arabic origins and quite literally translates as something like bread and eggs. The dish consists of a dough parcel which is filled with fried minced meat and raw egg. Although a small minority of the population is Muslim, Arabic cuisine is present in many areas of the country. Another example of this is samosas, chapatti and curry made from different types of meat and vegetables.
As an aperitif or between meals, Ugandans tend to eat roasted peanuts, which is a very healthy and delicious custom. They are sold in paper cones and you will find them in pop-up stalls. The custom of eating peanuts is very rooted in Ugandan cuisine.
Traditional Ugandan drinks
Ugandans consume both traditional and international beers, which are one of the most popular drinks in the country. Local beer, known as pombe, is made of fermented millet and banana. Continuing with alcoholic drinks, Waragi is a banana gin which is very popular with tourists and is used as a base for a traditional Ugandan cocktail.
Other drinks that are commonly consumed in Uganda are tea and coffee. As far as tea is concerned, chai style tea is the most popular, for example chai masala, which is clearly of Indian origin. On the other hand, coffee is a more serious matter, as Uganda is the largest producer of all Africa. The Robusta and Arabica varieties are grown by small producers and cooperatives who sell their produce to the export companies.
Now that you know the most representative flavours of Uganda, don’t think about it any longer and try the country’s traditional dishes during your trip.