Uganda Culinary tours
Uganda Culinary tours : Uganda is one of the best gifted countries in Africa and the whole world with a diversity of foods which are embedded in its different ethnic tribes whereby each with its staple food and the best way to experience culture is through food. Uganda is a small landlocked country yet very big in terms of culture with over 50 tribes and most of these tribes have distinctive and unique foods. Food in Uganda serves to connect people with land, and heritage. It is a diverse and dynamic channel for sharing stories, forming relationships and building communities.
Food tourism in Uganda tells the story of a destination’s history, culture and people. Over the last decade, destination marketing organizations (DMOs) have leveraged the rise of mainstream interest in food to open new consumer markets and drive business to a wider range of regional travel suppliers working in the food and beverage (F&B) sector believing that commitment and collaboration are the best avenues to success in this industry. Together, these fundamentals reinforce the economic, environmental and social health of our communities.
By combining local food and beverages on a Uganda Safari tour, culinary tours offers both the local people and tourists an authentic taste of a place while contributing to a sustainable world economy. This actively creates fruitful relationships within communities in Uganda while developing strong relationships between growers, chefs, processors, restauranteurs, accommodation providers, distributors, government and industry organizations. As a tourist, culinary tour experiences will change the way you think about local African food.
In order for you to have the best stay in Uganda, experience new foods different from your country of origin. Compared to other foods, African cuisine is very unique both in the kinds of foods served and how it is all prepared. Below are some of the local Uganda dishes that you must try out upon your visit to Uganda.
Matooke – Matooke is the green type of banana also called as “Musa acuminata”. They are the most consumed food in most of the regions in Uganda especially in the western and central regions of Uganda thus the Matooke is indeed a staple food of most tribes. To have the best taste of Matooke in Uganda, most homes and local restaurants prepare Matooke in a traditional way whereby the bananas sticks are peeled, then wrapped in banana leaves and cooked for some hours. They are later served either in mashed or stick form. While on a culinary tour, you will be able to also peel the Matooke, wrap it in banana leave and then cook. When the Matooke is ready, it is mashed and served to eat. However, there are other ways of cooking the Matooke that is some people fry the Matooke with spices like tomatoes, carrots, onions, green peppers or in most cases, with ground nuts puree (peanut) or any other sauce including meat or fish. Therefore, Just as rice is to the Chinese, Matooke is to most Ugandans; it can be served 3 meals in a day. Matooke plantations are everywhere in the country and some regions they are planted in large scales, particularly in the western part around Mbarara district
There are also other types of bananas produced in Uganda such as the plantain ( Musa balbisiana) which is preferably enjoyed when it is grilled over charcoal although it can also be prepared by boiling. The other banana type in Uganda are more like fruits that is the small sweet type of bananas usually the lady finger bananas, locally called “Menvu” and Lakatan bananas locally called “Bogoya”. These are sold in all places around the country even along the road while on your journey on a safari. They are also grown everywhere in the country. They are sold by most street vendors and in main markets.
Meat – Just like most countries, Uganda is not different when it comes with meat selection. The mainly consumed meat in Uganda includes; Beef (Cow’s meat), goats’ meat, Pork and Chicken and of all, beef has the highest density in some regions. All these meat are found everywhere in Uganda given that Uganda is an agricultural destination with animal keeping practises. Given that background, meat should be cheaper to buy but instead it is expensive with Chicken being the most expensive and beef the cheapest in most restaurants especially in all urban centres.
Meat is prepared in various ways however, while on a culinary tour, you are showed how to locally prepare meat. It is prepared as a stew with ingredients like onions, green peppers, tomatoes and usually a mild curry powder is added, this is a delicious sauce that is served with either Matooke or Rice depending on your preferred food. While meat, we can find various meat products like burgers, meat pies, sausages and samosas. Meals can be prepared 3 times a day with breakfast served with meat offals as a local breakfast meal and meat stew for lunch. Also along most streets vendors serve barbequed meats on sticks. Most people enjoy eating Goat and Pork roasts, in most urban centres they can be found in all busy town centres. Therefore, how foods are prepared and consumed in Uganda varies from tribe to tribe due to the cultural differences.
Fish – Uganda is surrounded by most lakes and most importantly it is a home of the world’s second biggest fresh water lake. Most of the lakes in Uganda including Lake Victoria support fishing practises as a main economic activity done and the most commonly caught fish in Uganda is the Nile perch and the Tilapia and some less popular species are caught. Tilapia fish is the most common fish caught because its flesh is white and widely preferred as it does not have a fishy taste. The tilapia is prepared and served in two ways. Some people cut the tilapia into few pieces and make stew, this is usually served with Matooke. Another way is by is deep frying the whole fish.
The Nile Perch fish is also another famous species but larger than the Tilapia fish. It is also deep fried and cooked in a stew. Due to its massive size, its cut into very many pieces before it is served. Both the Tilapia and the Nile Perch are served in local restaurants around the country, also street vendors sell them as well as in the markets throughout Uganda. The prices of fish vary basing on the season.
The other type of fish caught and widely consumed by most Ugandans is the tiny silverfish which is called “Mukene” in the local language. These tiny fish are caught with big nets usually at night, laid to dry at the shores, reason why most fishing villages are always covered with these small fish. Silverfish is a good source of proteins especially those that cannot afford expensive food. Most farmers serve Mukene to their chicken, pigs and dogs because of the high nutrient content found in them.
Fruits and Vegetables – some of the best and commonly found fruits and vegetables in Uganda;
Mangoes are one of the most common fruits in Uganda grown throughout Uganda. The most concentration of mangoes is in the Western Eastern and Northern parts of Uganda. The seasonal mango growth usually results into huge heaps of mangoes along the major highways being sold by the growers. During this season, various types of mangoes can be purchased at a less price and most people buy a lot and fill their car boots with heaps of mangoes to share with their families and friends.
Pineapples – Uganda is one of the best Pineapple growing countries in the world. The good climatic conditions and the soil nutrients favour the growth of the most juicy and sweetest pineapples. Pineapples are sold all around the country especially in the southern and central parts of Uganda including supermarkets, markets and a number of street vendors sell hundreds of pineapples every day. There are also juice making factories which make juice and many amounts of concentrated juice are exported to other countries from Uganda on a daily basis.
Jackfruits – these are one of those fruits that are not common to most foreigners. It’s grown in East Africa and in the Caribbean. It’s a big green fruit normally a meter long. Jackfruits are sold also by roadside vendors, what makes this fruit different is that it has a glue-like sticky secretion so most people avoid touching it with their hands. Those sold by vendors are already sliced; you could use a plastic wrap to handle it as you eat.
Other fruits include; passion fruits, watermelons, papayas, apples, and guavas. Apples in Uganda are grown in mountainous regions which have cooler conditions and are also distributed in the major town and markets.
Vegetables that are commonly consumed in Uganda include; onions, tomatoes, cabbages, eggplants, cassava, green peppers and maize. Potatoes, squash and carrots are less common but also greatly consumed, the sweet and Irish potatoes are widely served especially in south western Uganda. Some vegetables like broccoli, spinach, lettuce, celery and green bean are close to non-existent in the country. Eating of raw vegetables is not done by most Ugandans, whereby even what some call salads for example tomatoes, onions, cabbages, green peppers are also normally fried.
While on your Uganda Safari Tours, there are some of the foods you need to look out for as you can only eat and denjoy them in Uganda. Some areas have food traditions that are quite unique and local. Some of them are listed below;
Katogo is a common Ugandan dish eaten by people mainly in Southern and Central Uganda. It is a mixture of half proteins and starch and the common one is of cassava and beans. Other katogo mixtures are for Matooke with beef, ground nut sauce, or fish.
Pilau – This is basically rice fried with some vegetables and chunks of chicken or beef plus some pilau spices. It is slightly similar to what is served by East Indians called “biryani”, though pilau is milder compared to the Indian Biryani.
Rolex – famous street food made up of a chapatti, the chapatti is fired not baked. The chapatti is used to make a wrap where an egg omelette is placed and tomato salad; it’s enjoyed by almost every Ugandan and it’s a must try out food for every foreigner.
Grasshoppers – these are insects that fly seasonally in the western central part of the Uganda especially in Masaka district and most locals get a lot of income during the season since grasshoppers are at a high demand. It’s amazing how they are caught, catching them is done in the night where light is shone on big tin sheets, then this light attracts grasshoppers and blinds them temporarily and with this they fall into large buckets which are prepared below. The legs, wings sometimes heads of the grasshoppers are removed and later fried with onions, they are served as a snack, just like one eats popcorn. Other foods include; roasted maize, Samosas, Mandazis, white flying ants and many more.