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Uganda Cuisine


Ugandan cuisine 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 starchy filler with a sauce of beans or meat, to several-course meals served in upper-class homes and high-end restaurants.

Main dishes are usually centered on a 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; the more affluent 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 for breakfast. 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 and mutton are all commonly eaten, although among the rural poor there would have to be a good reason for slaughtering a large animal such as a goat or a cow and nyama, (Swahili word for "meat") would not be 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. Amaranth (dodo), nakati, 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 West, as snacks or dessert. Europeans introduced cake and this is also popular.

Traditional Dishes

Ugali, usually from maize but also other starches, regional names include posho and kwon. Kwon is a sort of ugali made from millet but in other regions like eastern Uganda, they include cassava flour.

Groundnuts or peanuts are a vital staple and groundnut sauce is probably the most commonly eaten one. It can be eaten plain or mixed with smoked fish, smoked meat or mushrooms. It can also be mixed with greens such as borr.

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.

Matoke is mashed plantain that is used as opposed to mashed potato. Usually used in a main course.

Luwombo is traditionally a dish from Buganda in which stew of either chicken, beef, mushrooms or fish is steamed in banana leaves Malewa. This is traditionally a dish from eastern Uganda (Bugisu) which is made up of bamboo shoots.

As for snacks, nsenene is an unusual food item: a seasonal delicacy of a type of grasshopper. Nswaa is also served similarly to nsenene, but made of white ants. Mugati naamaggi (bread and eggs), originally an Arab dish, is wheat dough spread into a thin pancake, filled with minced meat and raw egg, and then folded into a neat parcel and fried on a hotplate.

Indian samosas have been completely assimilated into the local cuisine, as have chapati and curry.


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. Tonto is a traditional fermented drink made from bananas. Waragi is the generic term for distilled spirits and these also vary.

Tea (chai) and coffee (kawa) are popular beverages and important cash crops. These can be served English-style or spiced (chai masala).





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