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Title: Ugali  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: Ugandan cuisine, Rwandan cuisine, Sub-Saharan Africa, Dar es Salaam, Maize
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Alternative names Sima, sembe, posho
Type Porridge
Main ingredients Cornmeal

Ugali (also sometimes called Sima, Sembe or Posho) is a dish of maize flour (cornmeal) cooked with water to a porridge- or dough-like consistency. It is the most common staple starch featured in the local cuisines of the African Great Lakes region and Southern Africa. When ugali is made from another starch, it is usually given a specific regional name.


Ugali with beef and sauce.
Ugali and cabbage.

The traditional method of eating ugali (and the most common in the rural areas) is to roll a lump into a ball with the right hand, and then dip it into a sauce or stew of vegetables and/or meat. Making a depression with the thumb allows the ugali to be used to scoop, and to wrap around pieces of meat to pick them up in the same way that flat bread is used in other cultures.

Ugali is relatively inexpensive and thus easily accessible to the poor, who usually combine it with a meat or vegetable stew (e.g. sukuma wiki in Kenya) to make a filling meal. Ugali is easy to make and the flour can last for a considerable time in average conditions. Maize, from which the flour is obtained, is hardy and will grow reliably in dry seasons. For these reasons, ugali is an important part of the diet of millions of people in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Other names and similar foods

Ugali and usipa (small fish), staples of the Yawo people of the African Great Lakes.

The word ugali is a Bantu language term derived from Swahili, spoken in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. In parts of the latter country, the dish also goes by the informal, "street" name of nguna.

In Kenya, ugali is also known as kienyenji in Kalenjin, ngima in Kikuyu, kuon in Luo, Obusuma in the Nyole dialect of the Luhya tribe, nkima in the meru language and obokima in the Kisii language (Ekegusii).

Yawo women preparing ugali for a large gathering.

In Uganda, ugali has several regional names, including posho.

In Rwanda, the dish is called ubugali, while in eastern parts of the Democratic Republic of the Congo it is referred to as bugali.

In South Africa, a similar cornmeal mush called phuthu or mealie pap is a staple food; elsewhere in Southern Africa it is called isitshwala or bogobe in Botswana or sadza in Zimbabwe, nshima in Zambia, nsima in Malawi (normally eaten with utaka – a type of local dried fish), chima in Mozambique (in several languages), and oshifima or pap in Namibia. Fufu, a starch-based food from West and Central Africa, may also be made from maize meal, in which case it may be called fufu corn. In the Caribbean, similar dishes are cou-cou (Barbados), funchi (Curaçao), and funjie (Virgin Islands). It is known as funche in Puerto Rican cuisine and mayi moulin in Haitian cuisine.

See also

External links

  • Congo Cook Book
  • Kenya Recipes
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