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Must Try Street Foods Of Uganda

samosas on a saucer
Samosas on a saucer.

 

Uganda’s streets are paved by the glitter of the golden age of snacks and fast foods. Since Ugandans don’t dine, they eat. And eating means wolfing down morsels of paradise on a plate or in a plastic or paper wrapper or polyethene bag along busy streets which break a Kampala or Uganda minute into a fraction of a moment. Yes, things are always fast moving in Uganda especially within Kampala city. And so you need street foods which won’t slow you down as you go about your business.

 

Here are some of the most popular street foods of Uganda:

 

Gonja (Plantain)

Gonja
Gonja fingers after being roasted on a roadside charcoal stove.

This type of plantain is found on every street especially in the evenings . If Sesame Street was in Uganda, you’d find Gonja there too. Typically, Gonja is harvested upon ripening and thereupon its fingers turn chalk-brown. It is then peeled before it is grilled, steamed or fried, but not eaten raw. In all eateries where flavour is favoured to tickle one’s fancy, it is prepared as part of the main menu. While in supermarkets, you will find it packaged as thin slices deep fried to crunchy perfection.

 

 

Rolex

Man holding rolex food in polyethene bags

The rolex may be seen as a luxury watch in other parts of the world but in Uganda, it takes its rightful place as the most exciting street food to try. This is not to egg you on or “eggs-aggerate”, but a Rolex is one of the most deliciously popular street foods of Uganda. And no, you’re not eating an expensive time-piece here! For a Rolex according to Ugandans is an omelette sandwiched by a chapatti. It usually takes the conical shape of a rolled-up chapatti featuring an omelette made with tomatoes, cabbages, onions and green pepper inside. Like hot cakes, it is eaten fresh from the fire. And you can decide the number of eggs or chapattis you want to make up your Rolex. Again, you also get to decide how much tomatoes, onions or cabbages and green pepper, fresh or fried, you want in your Rolex. Often fried to perfection, a Rolex lets you know what time it is in Ugandan culinary terms. We think it is Uganda’s greatest contribution to the global street food scene.

 

 

Roasted maize

Roasted maize in uganda

To many it is known as corn. In Uganda, it is maize. And it is an “a-maizing” in its popularity and accessibility. This roasted maize on a cob, eaten on the fly, as a delicacy is daily enjoyed by motorists and pedestrians alike. Its dark yellow hues of flavour is like sunset in the mouth. Usually alongside this grilled maize is a steaming saucepan of boiled maize. You may choose the roast or the boiled. It’s not a choice between Tomhato is similar tomato, but it’s close enough. You could try either. We actually recommend you try both.

 

 

Muchomo or grilled meat

Muchomo sticks being roasted

Uganda is home to a lot of meat varieties. So meat is a four letter word which has nothing dirty about it. On every street and in every square, you will find all sorts of meat-laden grills. The commonest you will find include sausages, beef, chicken, goat meat, and pork. Eating Muchomo, as Ugandans call it, accompanied with boiled cassava/yucca/manioc, avocado slices, and diced vegetables (tomatoes, onions) is one of the favourite leisurely pastimes for Ugandans enjoying an evening or weekend out on the town. The Muchomo is usually washed down with soda and, for those who imbibe, a beer.

 

 

 

Chips

Uganda chips / fries

Chips excite the Ugandan palate so much that even the proverbial couch potato would get up and chip in when it comes to adding up few shillings in order to buy some chips. Being French Fries, you can be sure they will say “au revoir” to any stabs of hunger that might penetrate your sense of wellbeing. To be sure, it is the Rolex that rivals the domination of the streets by chips. You are likely to find them in every trading centre you make a stop at. They are usually sold along with grilled meat products.

 

Mandazi

Mandanzi on display in Kampala

This is a sweet deep-fried piece of dough ball similar to a donut except without the hole. So, when hungry, you won’t have to try to eat the hole out of the donut. Instead, you can enjoy this soft pastry with your weakness for sweetness. Beyond adding a toothsome grin to your sweet tooth, it is best enjoyed with soda or juice on a hot afternoon while the traffic rushes by. Amidst this commotion, you can take a breather and enjoy this vehicle to thoroughly satisfying day.

 

 

Samosas

samosas on a saucer
Beef samosas on a saucer. They can also be vegetable filled or rice filled. Be sure ask before you dig in.

A popular digest, these yummy triangular pockets of vegetables, rice or minced meat are testament to the influence of Indian migrants on Ugandan cuisine. They can be found fried and friendly pocket-wise along every street. And when ready to eat, transform a snack into a fitting aperitif which will whet one’s appetite for a casual day. Take them with tea, coffee, soda, juice or even water and then throw your head back as you laugh all the way to the metaphorical bank for finding a cheap and appetizing snack to fuel your day.

 

 

Cassava

 

On every city slicker’s shopping list is cassava, manioc or yuca: the bulkier, starchier and cheaper cousin of chips. Being fries without the French, Cassava is rich in carbohydrates and is often sold along streets in every town and city in Uganda while being fried in a wok-like saucepan. When ready, it is sprinkled with salt then served. As you know, good food leads to good conversation. So well fried Cassava with condiments such as salt tomato sauce or ketchup tends to favor the city intellectual standing on a sidewalk and pondering the country’s state of affairs with savior faire. Or, in this case, Cassava faire.

 

 

Pancakes

uganda pancakes or kabalagala

Locally known as Kabalagala, these small brownish round pancakes get Brownie Points for exquisite taste, affordability and portability. They are immensely popular with the locals for their exciting taste and low prices. You can eat them while on the go and, if they are a guilty pleasure, on the sly. Sweet and soft, they are eaten with tea, soda, juice and even water as a digestif. When you are in Kampala, you might find yourself in a place called Kabalagala. However this location has little or nothing to do with these pancakes, even though it would be nice if they were as eponymous as chocolate is in Charlie and Chocolate Factory. Still, while there, you can buy a few of them in honor of the area code and your good taste.

 

 

Fish

 

There are plenty of fish in the sea, they say. We say the sea of concrete and red earth fetching up and down every street in Uganda must be home to fried fish. Cut into small pieces, they might come from Nile Perch or “Emputa” found in Lake Victoria. And due to their crunchy deliciousness, you might find yourself telling the seller “Ah-‘em, put a’-nother Emputa piece on my plate.” Be sure to ask for some salt, lime, tomatoes , onions and cassava to go with that. And, if you’re an Englishman, some fish and chips Ugandan-style would serve to make you enjoy Uganda as a home away from home.

 

 

Fried Chicken

 

Ever since Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) became the rage in Kampala, we now have Kisaasi Fried Chicken, Kireka Fried Chicken or Anonymous Fried Chicken as copycat imprints that serve the downtown market that KFC doesn’t cater to. Copycats cover a large purr-cent of the chicken market. So why not go for the original? No, not KFC. But the fried chicken found everywhere on the streets of Uganda. It is deep-fried to the crispy delight that you would expect of any upmarket delicacy. And is served with cabbages, tomatoes and some optional chili (piri-piri) to give it that tandoori flavoring that is peculiarly and distinctly Ugandan.

Taking  sometime out of your safari trip with us to enjoy street foods in Uganda is always a good idea, of course with the guidance of our safari guides.

If you are interested in booking a safari adventure to Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, or Tanzania, you can always contact one of our safari experts here. Our safari trips through the region provide you with plenty of opportunities to experience the best about East Africa – wildlife, people, cultures, and food.

 

 

 

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