Independence Day Round Up: Foods that Are Proudly Ugandan

work with meIn the last blog post I talked about how we need to pay homage to the food that makes up the cuisine of this nation. It is one of the main purposes of this little blog here. And because there is so much food to talk about, I am continuing by rounding up foods that are found here in Uganda  and are locally grown. I am also sharing links to some recipe ideas from the archive that you can make with them. Just so you know, I had a hard time limiting the list to only 21. There is so much to discover and so much cooking that has happened here.  Wishing you all a wonderful independence day.

Amaranth/Dodo greens

First off is this classic vegetable that, come sunshine or rain, will sprout and thrive almost anywhere. Currently it is glistening from the backyard because of the rain that has graced the land. It is mostly known as poor man’s food but I am set to break the stereotype because this vegetable is packed with lots of nutrients.  And on my quest to break the stereo type, I challenged myself to learn how to cook it in different ways. Here are some of the ways you can prepare dodo and still have a great time eating it. Stir-fried, sauteed, in rice, and in pasta.

Cassava

Cassava is one of my favourite tubers. My father can testify.  I love my cassava very much especially the crispy friend kind. I also realise frying is probably not the best way to cook so, aside from a comforting cassava –bean katogo (which I am yet to share), I tried this sour cream pudding with chocolate and coconut and these cassava balls and I cannot wait to make them again because it is a good base for desserts and chapati. Also this incredibly tasty cassava leaves soup called sombe is worth a try.

Sweet potatoes

Speaking of chapati, I made this sweet potato chapati that is a must try. We have started harvesting our sweet potatoes and it will be chapati all day every day soon! Another way to cook sweet potato is by making these sweet potato ballsfries/chips, rolls which are a fragrant and less expensive but flavorful alternative to making cinnamon rolls and these sweet potato filled cookies.

Tea

We Ugandans are tea drinkers.  Maybe it is a British influence or probably an Indian one but we love our tea and we will drink it any time of the day!  So here are some other ways we can drink tea. Iced in the hot days with lemons and also with lemongrass.

Passion fruit

There are some things that are synonymous with Uganda and I believe passion fruit is one of them, especially the juice. In fact it should be the national juice. Don’t you think? So here is this lemongrass infused passion juice because that’s how we make it without a strainer.

Chapati

Another one synonymous with the nation is chapati. I was having a food related conversation a few months back and I realised we consume a lot of wheat. A LOT! Every morning you pass by stalls and kiosks making heaps of chapatti, samosas, and mandazi and they are consumed every day on top of bread! We consume a lot of wheat! So here are ways you can eat your chapati: in the morning as a rolex or a jumbo beef rolex. The possibilities are endless what with CNN talking about the rolex  here and here.

Bananas

Matooke, Ndizi, menvu, bogoya, gonja. Name it, we have it all. I was reading through an encyclopaedia published in 1992 (before the internet took over reading) about Uganda and found out one of the major exports was bananas. Can you imagine the amount of bananas those were? So here are some I have written about that you can try. Gonja,  and then make these donuts,  these banana pancakes, these muffins,  and the epic kabalagala and if you are against frying you can try this steamed version called ebwanga. Also did you know that the banana blossom is edible and tasty too? Here is one way to make it. 

Pawpaw

Paw paw is an instant snack and desert with only natural sugar. And it is so good on its own but if you want to be experimental, try these killer slushies to beat the heat and this edgy salad. If you want to be fancy (who doesn’t?!) you can try these vegetarian pawpaw cream parfaits that made it to CNN last month.

Black jack

Similar to Amaranth, black jack is literary everywhere. Chances are you will find it where ever  there is a bush of some sort. It is also medicinal and makes killer tea (at this point I realise the lines are blurred. Everything that makes a hot beverage is called tea!).

Mujaja

The fragrance that this herb releases is otherworldly! If you have not had Mujaja tea before, you should. It is soothing and smells amazing.

Maize

What is life without maize? You know especially if you have undergone the Ugandan education system? You feed on posho and porridge for over 12 years! And to think all the high school leavers have had to eat poshso for all that time is just insane! So I am imagining by the time secondary  school is over, no one wants anything to do with anything maize. But then fresh maize, hard corns (gweke style) and some corn bread thrown in there will keep you coming back.  So here are some suggestions. This posho stir fry, sautéed maize, and this creamy St. Marcellin salad.

Ntula/garden eggs

Ntula have been around for as long as I can remember and I despised them in my childhood because they are bitter. But now they are one of my favourite vegetables to cook with because they have a great texture and the bitterness adds an unexpected twist to food! They can even be eaten raw!  Try out this ntula muekene stew and these ntula fritters.

Mangoes

My favourite fruit so far (and hopefully forever)! I call it the super fruit.  Don’t believe me? Try these mango popsicles, this three layer cake with mango syrup, this green mango jam (which is epic!) and this mango-pear pie, You can find them too almost everywhere! And now that the trees are starting to put on fruit, I cannot wait to get my fill of green mangoes because the fun is in actually eating the green sour ones with salt chilli, sugar and anything really!

Samosas

Again what is Uganda without samosas or sumbusas might I say? You will find them, just like chapatti, on every corner being vended. I have eaten some the tastiest samosas on the streets! And because we love them so much, we fill them with vegetables, beans (peas) and even rice! Yes we eat them every which way and in every size too! Try these ones with melty cheese!

Beans

Beans! What would we do without beans? And the great part is we have almost every variety under the sun! White, red black yellow small big in every shape color and size. Try these palm oil fried beans, these surprisingly good stir-fried black beans sprouts and this fresh bean soup and this black bean stew.Also beans make really good burger patties.

Pumpkin

Have you ever noticed that the best pumpkins are not even farmed? They just grow by themselves on waste pits and heaps. Now before you think this is a bad thing, let me explain why these are some of the best pumpkins and why they thrive. You see biodegradable waste is manure for these seeds that we randomly throw. Because the environment is so conducive, these seedlings thrive to become the greenest vines and they give some of the best pumpkins. And we like our pumpkins alongside that soft matooke preferably steamed.  Here is some comforting pumpkin soup and pumpkin stir-fry to try.

Nile Perch

Every time I am travelling I keep eyeing those larger than life Nile perches being butchered by the road side. One of my dreams is to buy a massive one and then cook it whole in herbs and spices because that amount of flesh they have is just so unbelievable! Did you know that when the CNN crew came to shoot me in my kitchen my parent’s kitchen, I made perch with groundnut stew and we ate it with akalo (which we call obundu). It was such a great day. You can watch the video here and then go make the stew. Also fish to be specific perch in bugers is epic. The flavours are amazing. You should  try it.

Mukene

I have spotted packaged fried mukene in supermarkets many times. It is great as a snack and can be made into sauce too! Here is how I mostly prepare it with a rich base of tomatoes and it goes well with posho, rice and anything really.

Simsim

I have childhood memories of bucket of simsim paste sent to us by family friends. I learnt to eat it with sweet potatoes and the taste is otherworldly! If you haven’t tried simsism with sweet potatoes, you should. I made a remix of the two by making these simsim balls. Now I always have a bottle of simsim because I like sprinkling it on almost anything.  It enhances the flavour of almost everything.

Irish Potatoes

Did you know that aside from cassava and matooke, irish potatoes and popular for making katogo and chips/fries but mostly katogo. Here is a potato-groundnut katogo to try.

Millet

I hear tales from my parents that I used to feed on millet a lot as a kid. A LOT! It was when I fell in love with bushera that I started to appreciate millet.  I have been experimenting with making millet bread and the bread is so rich and filling. Here is a massive donut I baked with millet over a year ago.

Phew! That was a long list! I hope you find something to try in this season of celebration. Make sure you let me know when you do try them out or use the #AkitchenInUg to share your creations inspired by the above.

🙂

Sophie

Advertisements

Creamy Cassava Chocolate Pudding with Toasted Coconut

cassava pudding-AKIU-11

With less than two weeks to our independence day, I believe it is a good idea to pay homage to the food that makes up this nation’s tapestry. Cassava is one of those foods. The possibilities are endless with cassava and this dessert right here is one of the many ways you can prepare it.

Sometimes I wish you can smell what is cooking from this end of the screen. Someone should make an app for that. Seriously! While in the process of making these puddings, The whole house was a fragrant mixture of chocolate and toasted coconut coupled with a hint of vanilla.
Picture this scenario: Tender boiled cassava, pounded with vanilla, sugar and coconut to create a creamy sticky fine texture. At this point the cassava is already good to go but then to add a richer, lighter and more silken texture, I am using Paramount Dairies Thick Sour Cream. The sour cream adds a big difference to the cassava. Then this sweet goodness is dished in a bowl, topped with rich melted chocolate and generous;y sprinkled with toasted coconut. Can you imagine the flavours that are at play here?

Be warned though. This dessert is a sweets-lover’s dream (OK. Not only the sweets-lovers because even I downed two bars in one seating).

Another way to serve this dessert is by using a sheet pan. Line the sheet pan with wax paper or cling film. I used banana leaves for a pop of color. Place the cassava in a sheet pan evenly. Spread the chocolate evenly and generously sprinkle the toasted coconut. Refrigerate and serve the next day.

cassava pudding-AKIU-13

 

What you will need:

6 C. Cassava, boiled

2 C. Sugar

1½ C. Thick Sour Cream

¼ C. Desiccated coconut

1 C. Desiccated coconut

1 C. Melted chocolate

2 Tsp. Vanilla extract

 

Observations:

  1. I used a mortar and pestle. If you have a food mixer, it will work well.
  2. The first batch I made had a bitter after-taste because of the cassava. Before pounding your cassava, taste it to make sure it is not bitter.
  3. Since it is hard to measure raw cassava, boil a big batch and then measure it in cups before you pound it.
  4. When the cassava cools, it will harden a little. It is okay.
  5. Use a heatproof bowl or metallic bowl for melting the chocolate.
  6. To speed up the cooling process, place the ground cassava in the fridge.

 

 

Method

  1. Peel and wash the cassava.
  2. Put the cassava in a pan with enough water. Place the pan on fire and let the cassava boil till tender and loose.
  3.  Remove from fire and measure six cups.
  4. Place the measured cassava in the mortar/mixer and pound till a thick silky like consistency is achieved. Add the sugar, ¼ cup of coconut and vanilla and keep pounding till they are evenly mixed.
  5. Remove the ground cassava from the mortar/mixer and put in a bowl. Let the cassava cool completely.
  6. Melt the chocolate: Cut it into small pieces and place in a bowl. Heat water in a pan and let it come to a boil. Place the bowl with chocolate in the water and let it slowly soften while mixing. Keep mixing until it has completely melted. Remove from fire.
  7. Place the 1 cup of coconut in a dry pan on medium heat and toast till slightly golden brown and a sweet aroma is released. Remove from fire.
  8. Once the cassava has completely cooled, add in the sour  cream using the cut and fold method till it is fully incorporated.

To serve: Spoon the cassava in  a bowl, pour chocolate on top and drizzle with toasted coconut.

 

This desert is best served the next day. This allows for the flavours to fully incorporate. I managed to keep everyone away from it but then the next day it disappeared. Now  you know what to do with all that cassava.

cassava pudding-AKIU-21

Have a lovely week.

🙂

Sophie

 

This post is made possible by Paramount Dairies. You can find Thick Sour Cream and more cream and cheese products in major supermarkets in Kampala. Thank you for supporting brands I believe in.

Sombe (Cassava Leaves) Soup

sombe-AKIU-10

A lot of memories are associated with sombe for me. As a child it was a big chore to pound those green leaves. I always wondered why they were never eaten as they are because laziness I prefer uncut veggies sometimes. It still is a chore in a way but I understand more the process food has to go through to reach the table.

 

One thing I love about slow food is the whole process of conceiving the idea and then labouring to bring this idea to fruition. When you are immersed in the process of creating everything else will not matter. I like times when I get absorbed completely in making food and experiencing every little step . I like that sombe can give you that experience. From harvesting the cassava leaves, picking out the tender ones, pounding them, putting them on fire and watching as it cooks till it releases a great aroma.

 

If you have not tried sombe, you should because not only is it a great sauce to accompany foods like kalo, matooke, sweet potatoes (and anything else really!) but it is also great eaten on its own especially now that the rainy days are upon us.

This is not a detailed recipe but rather  my experience making sombe and I will give you a rough estimate based off of the knowledge that’s been passed down to me of what’s needed to recreate this amazing flavourful soup.

 

Find recipe here

 

🙂

Sophie

our-growing-edge-badge

This post is part of the monthly link up party Our Growing Edge. This event aims to connect food bloggers and inspire us to try new things. This month is hosted by Chrystal at The Smallwood Personage.