There are many variations to making Ugali. You can choose to add salt in your cooking water (I would not recommend it), you can opt for milk instead of using water, you can add some butter to your water, and instead of using cornmeal, you can opt for millet, sorghum, or coarse cassava flour. If you want very soft Ugali, then you have to use more water and vice versa.
Kenya’s Ugali is usually served as an accompaniment to vegetable stew or meat, but can also be taken with fresh or soured milk. If you have left over Ugali, you can also take it with tea for breakfast, and it would be best not to warm it if your tea is hot.
How to eat Ugali
Now that you have learnt how to prepare the Kenyan Ugali, we need to sit down and eat it. Traditionally, Ugali would be placed at the center of the table or on the floor, with smaller plates of stew around it, for the family members. Then you would each dig into the Ugali in turns until you finished it. There are people who still do this.
Generally though, to eat Ugali, pinch a sizeable lump with your fingers, and mush it with the same fingers to make a round shape. Then form an indentation into the round shape with your thumb, and use this to scoop up your accompanying stew. This could be vegetables, meat, or even beans (“madondo”).
If you would rather not use your hands (though this is the best way to eat Ugali if you ask me), then feel free to use a fork and knife to cut pieces that you can transfer to your plate.
Points to note
- The taste of Ugali – Basic Kenyan Ugali (as per the recipe above) has a popcornish taste, unless it has been flavoured with either milk or butter.
- The amount of Ugali to eat depends on how much your stomach can take in. Some people eat small portions while others have been known to eat very big portions with just a little stew.
- The cooking pot that has been used to cook Ugali has to be soaked in water if you want any success in washing it. I personally prefer to soak my cooking pot the whole night (assuming I had Ugali for dinner), then wash it the following morning.
- Once Ugali has been removed from the cooking pot and assuming it has been well cooked, there is a crisp lining that forms around the insides of the cooking pot. This can also be eaten and is quite tasty actually.
- The more basic your Ugali, the better the taste. Avoid adding too much flavour and just prepare it with the above basic steps.
There you have it! Kenya’s Ugali. Everything you need to know. Let me know what you think once you get the chance to try it.