Food in Uganda: 19 Things You Need To Try During Your Trip
If you’re traveling to Uganda, you’re in for a treat – the food is amazing!
There is no doubt that food is a big part of any culture, . And when you travel to a new place, trying the local food is always a must-do activity. In Uganda, there are so many delicious dishes to try, and each region has its own specialties.
From savory stews to sweet desserts and street food to unique delicacies, there’s something for everyone!
Here is a list of 19 foods you have to try during your trip.
What Does Ugandan Food Taste Like?
Some people may find the food in Uganda bland, especially local cuisine. Many of the traditional dishes compensate for this lack of flavor with rich sauces made of groundnuts (peanuts), smoking, or frying food. It is not uncommon to see people add chili peppers, which are grown throughout Uganda, to their food once it is served served.
Food in Uganda has been greatly influenced by the countries that surround it. British food has had a big influence on food in Uganda, as many of the ingredients and methods used are similar to what is used in the UK. For example, Ugandan food often includes dishes such as baked beans on toast, and fish and chips.
Indian food has also had a significant impact on Ugandan cuisine, with dishes such as chapati (flatbread), dal (lentils), and curry becoming popular. The influence of other cultures can also be seen in Ugandan food, with Chinese staples such as rice and noodles being widely consumed.
Despite the diverse range of influences, Ugandan food retains its own unique flavor and style.
What is the National Dish of Uganda?
There is no national dish in Uganda. This is not surprising giving the diversity of the country with many different cultures. Ugandan food consists of a variety of dishes including stews, curries, soups, and grilled meats.
Here are some of the most popular dishes in the various regions in Uganda.
Food In Northern Uganda
Malakwang is a traditional dish that comes from the Acholi tribe in northern Uganda. This food is made by using the malakwang plant as well as odi, which is a paste that is made out of peanuts and sesame seeds. Malakwang is often served with either millet bread or sweet potatoes.
If you’re ever in the northern region of Uganda, be sure to try this popular dish!
The traditional Ugandan dish called boo is made with a local green leafy vegetable of the same name. It is typically mixed with okra and the peanut butter sauce odi, though it can also be fried with eggs.
This dish originates from northern Uganda where the boo plant is indigenous. The leaves are boiled until soft and then often served as a side dish or as part of a more complex meal. This creamy peanut sauce is a common accompaniment to many Ugandan dishes and adds a delicious, nutty flavor to boo.
While it may be unfamiliar to some, this traditional Ugandan dish is definitely worth trying.
Food In Western Uganda
Firinda is a popular traditional dish from the Batooro and Banyoro tribes in Western Uganda. This meal is prepared by soaking beans and peeling off the skin. The beans are then boiled and mashed into a thick porridge-like paste. To get the perfect taste, ghee, salt, and even tomatoes, onions, smoked meat, or vegetables like greens and eggplants are added. The dish is commonly eaten with akaro, which is mingled millet and sorghum flour, or matooke.
You can count on firinda being served during special occasions like naming children, weddings, or hosting visitors.
Out of the Banyankole tribe in Western Uganda comes a very unique dish called Eshabwe.
This traditional dish is typically made with ghee, salt, and water. Some variations of the dish also include smoked meat for added flavor. To make Eshabwe, the ghee must be allowed to mature for two to three weeks before it is used in the dish.
Once the ghee has matured, it is combined with salt and cold boiled water in a pot. The mixture is then cooked over a low heat until it forms a thick paste. Rock salt is then added to the paste to form the Eshabwe. The dish can be served hot or cold and is typically eaten with matooke, sweet potatoes, or kalo (mingled millet flour). It is also often used as a condiment for other dishes.
Food In Eastern Uganda
Malewa is a local dish that is popular in eastern Uganda from the Bugisu tribe. This delicious meal is prepared by simmering smoked bamboo and paste together to create a thick, hearty stew. Some recipes include spices and herbs for extra flavor, while others simply rely on the natural taste of the bamboo stalks themselves.
The ingredients used in malewa are well-loved by the people of this region, and the dish represents their strong culinary traditions. Because it is so deeply rooted in local culture, malewa has become an important part of many family gatherings and celebrations.
Whether enjoyed on its own or served as a side dish, malewa is truly something special and unique to eastern Uganda. So if you find yourself sampling food in this corner of the country, make sure to give malewa a try – you won’t regret it!
Food In Central Uganda
This dish is popular all throughout Uganda, with its origins in the Buganda region. Luwombo is said to have been created in the 19th century by the personal chef of the tribe’s king, Kabaka Mwanga. Though the dish was meant for the royal family, it became open to all subjects in the country.
Luwombo is typically prepared with chicken, smoked fish, beef, goat meat, or even pork. The ingredients are put in smoked banana leaves to give the luwombo the best aroma.
Luwombo is usually reserved for special occasions. However, there are some restaurants that have made it part of their daily menu. This dish is definitely something you’ll want to try during your trip to Uganda!
What Is The Most Famous Food In Uganda?
The Ugandan rolex is a popular street food that is widely enjoyed across the country. This delicious dish consists of a savory omelet and a warm, crusty chapati, which are then rolled up together to create a delectable, portable meal.
With its soft, fluffy eggs and fragrant, flaky chapati, the rolex is truly the taste of Uganda. Whether enjoyed at home or on-the-go, this mouthwatering dish captures the essence of Ugandan cuisine and is undoubtedly one of the country’s most beloved culinary staples.
So if you’re visiting Uganda and want to experience authentic local flavor, be sure to grab yourself a hot and tasty rolex
What makes matoke so enticing is its combination of rich flavor and remarkable ease of preparation. The ripe bananas are peeled, sliced, and topped with a flavorful sauce before being steamed to perfection.
And although cooking techniques may vary from one region to another, matoke remains one of the most beloved foods in all of Uganda. Whether enjoyed at a family gathering or served up at an exclusive restaurant, this iconic dish never fails to satisfy hungry diners.
What Is The Most Popular Dish In Uganda?
This question is up to debate. As you have seen, the cultural diversity in cooking and food in Uganda is wide.
If you are wondering what food is popular in Uganda, here are some delicious foods that you can easily find throughout the country.
9. Starches in Uganda
Starches usually make up the bulk of the meal in Uganda. You will sometimes find the starchy, bulk of the meal referred to as “food”, while the rest of the meal is the “sauce” or “soup”.
Here are some popular starches in Uganda:
- Posho or ugali. This is maize flour cooked in boiling water. It creates a playdoh-like bread.
- Kalo. Similar to posho, though it is made with millet flour.
- Sweet potatoes
- Irish potatoes
For tourists looking to try something new, Uganda offers a wide variety of meat dishes to choose from.
- Fish. The Nile River, Lake Victoria, and other bodies of water in this landlocked country provide a lot of fish. You can find small fish like mukene or nkejje, or large fish like Nile Perch. Fish can be eaten fresh, fried, smoked, or dried.
- Offals. These are edible internal organs from animals. Popular offals are liver, tripe or cow stomach, and hooves among many others.
- Muchomo. This roasted meat is a classic street food in Uganda. You can find this Ugandan barbeque being sold by street vendors in cities, at bus stops, and near bars throughout the country.
11. Fruit in Uganda
Uganda is known for its tropical climate and abundant natural resources. Because of this warm and humid equatorial climate, and the lush landscape, Uganda enjoys a long growing season with plenty of sunshine throughout the year.
Whether it’s the sweet and juicy mangoes, the tart and tangy pineapples, or the velvety avocado, there are countless different types of fruit to be found in Uganda.
Here are some of our favorite fruits in Uganda:
- Small bananas. Sometimes called finger bananas.
- Passion fruit
- Sugar cane. This is not technically a fruit, but it’s sweet enough to make the list!
12. Vegetables in Uganda
Vegetables are an important source of nutrients in Uganda, a country known for its rich agricultural landscape and abundant biodiversity. These vegetables are often used in a variety of traditional dishes and curries to add texture and flavor to meals.
Whether you are looking for fresh leafy greens or delicious tubers, there is something for everyone in Uganda.
Some of the most common vegetables that can be found throughout the country include:
- Garden egg
- Amaranth. Often called dodo.
- Sukumawiki. This is a collard or kale like green.
Other plant leaves that are eaten:
- Pumpkin leaves
- Sweet potato leaves
- Cassava leaves
13. Snacks in Uganda
Uganda is a land of plenty, and that extends to the snacks that are commonly sold by vendors on the side of the road.
These quick bites are all relatively inexpensive and provide a quick and tasty way to tide over hungry travelers.
Some of these food you may see are:
- Roasted maize
- Gonja. Grilled banana or plantain.
- Lagalagala. A sweet banana pancake.
Unique Food in Uganda
Crayfish were first introduced to Uganda by the dictatorial leader Idi Amin back in the 1970s, when he brought large shipments of the crustaceans from neighboring Tanzania and dumped them into Lake Bunyonyi. At the time, many people thought that this was a cruel and impractical act, due to crayfish being alien to Uganda’s environment.
However, it turns out that crayfish took well to their new home and quickly established themselves in Lake Bunyonyi. Today, crayfish have even become a sought-after delicacy among local residents and tourists alike.
Grasshoppers, also known as ensenene, are a highly prized delicacy in Uganda. Specifically, grasshoppers are considered a treat during periods of the rainy season when they tend to be more plentiful and succulent.
In order to prepare these crunchy treats, grasshoppers are typically gathered in large quantities, rinsed thoroughly, and then tossed into hot oil. As they fry up golden brown and crisp, grasshoppers become imbued with salty flavors that perfectly complement their delicate texture.
Whether enjoyed as finger-food or piled onto a plate, grasshoppers are truly a culinary delight and a true delicacy in Uganda.
16. White Ants
In Uganda, white ants are considered a delicacy. Similar to ensenene, they are gathered in large quantities during the rainy season. The wings from the white ants are removed, and they are often roasted with salt and eaten as a snack.
While they may not be everyone’s cup of tea, there is no denying that they are a popular local dish. For many Ugandans, white ants are a cherished part of their culture and tradition.
Eating In Uganda As A Vegetarian
The number of vegetarian tourists visiting Uganda is on the rise, and as a result, more and more restaurants are offering vegetarian-friendly options. While it is still relatively challenging to find fully vegetarian restaurants, most establishments now offer at least a few dishes that cater to this dietary preference.
Vegetarian tourists will find that the most widely available options are typically stews and curries made with vegetables, beans, and grains. Other popular options include salads, soups, sandwiches, pizzas, pastas, and rudimentary vegetable stir-fries.
Pro-Tip: Some Ugandans will still serve you fish or chicken if you say that you don’t eat meat, be specific when explaining what you do and do not eat as a vegetarian.
While Uganda’s culinary scene is not yet fully vegetarian-friendly, it is gradually evolving to meet the needs of this growing market. With a little effort and some patience, vegetarian tourists should be able to find plenty of food options to suit their diet.
Breakfast is usually called the most important meal of the day. In Uganda, breakfast is not as important as lunch or dinner. This meal is often called “tea time” and is eaten later in the morning.
The typical Ugandan breakfast consists of tea with some sort of accompaniment, or escort, like bread, chapati, mandazi, or local dish like katogo, kikomando, or nyoi. During this time of day, you can also see people, especially children, taking porridge made from maize or millet flour.
Kikomando is a quick and easy street food that consists of sliced chapatti and beans. This dish is a popular choice for busy people on the go, as it can be eaten quickly and easily without utensils. The dish is also relatively inexpensive, making it a popular choice for budget-conscious diners.
While kikomando is typically enjoyed as a quick snack or light meal, it can also be customized to serve as a more filling and satisfying meal. For example, adding a variety of toppings, such as tomatoes, onions, cabbage, and chili peppers.
Nyoi is a traditional breakfast dish commonly found in northern Uganda. It consists of boiled maize kernels and beans. To give the dish a more savory flavor, the maize and bean mixture can be fried and then topped with fried onions.
Nyoi is a filling and nutritious dish that gives people the energy they need to start their day. Whether you are Ugandan or not, this delicious breakfast option is sure to please.
The Ugandan dish mandazi is a delicious fried pastry that is similar to a donut. Mandazi are often eaten as an escort to tea or breakfast.
The dough for mandazi is made with flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. It is then fried in oil until it is golden brown. The resulting pastry is light and fluffy, with a slightly sweet flavor. Whether you enjoy them as part of a meal or as a snack, mandazi are sure to delight your taste buds.
At a hotel breakfast, you might find a wider variety of options, including omelets, toast, pancakes, and cereal. Many offer a spin on a British breakfast, with eggs, sausage, beans, and bread, among other things.
However, the one thing that all Ugandan breakfasts have in common is that they are filling and nutritious, setting you up for a busy day ahead.
If you’re looking for a fun way to experience local food while in the touring Kampala, you can join a local food tasting tour led by our guide.
The Wrap-Up: What Is The Most Delicious Food In Uganda?
While Ugandan cuisine may not be as well-known as other African cuisines, it is definitely worth seeking out. Not only will travelers be able to enjoy some truly unique flavors, but they’ll also get a taste of the local culture.
There is a great variety of dishes, from stews and curries to fresh fruits and vegetables. The food is also very affordable, making it easy to try a variety of different dishes.
So don’t be afraid to try something new while traveling in Uganda – your taste buds will thank you!