Curious about what Ugandan food is like? In this Uganda Food Guide, you’ll learn about breakfast, lunch, and dinner – and sauces, desserts, and beverages from around the country – with 10 videos that include recipes and tips for preparing your own. You’ll also learn about the three places to try local food.
Uganda Food Guide: 16 Must Try Dishes
Uganda is like a treasure chest. The more you dig into this country’s many offerings, the more impressed you become with its many hidden gems. Uganda cuisine is one of these jewels that deepens your appreciation of this beautiful country.
While various Ugandan tribes sport their own specialty dishes, Uganda food consists overall of starchy staples like potatoes, beans, and cornmeal mixtures. Greens, plantains, bananas, sweet potatoes, cassava, and peanuts are also a major part of the Ugandan diet.
Other cultures, such as Indian, Arabic, and Asian have influenced the country’s cuisine over the years, adding different twists and spices to the mix. If you are planning to travel to Uganda, you must try some or all of the following 16 Uganda dishes.
1. Luwombo (or Oluwombo)
If you want to experience a true, classic Uganda food dish, you should try luwombo. This dish is believed to have been created by the personal chef of King Kabaka Mwanga of the Buganda Kingdom in the late 19th century and is a favorite among both royalty and common folk.
This traditional Ugandan stew consists of chicken, beef or fish that is steamed with vegetables such as carrots, potatoes, and mushrooms along with peanut (g-nut) sauce in wrapped plantains.
Luwombo is one of those nice, hearty dishes that hit the spot and makes you feel all warm and full inside.
Posho is one of those dishes that makes your food stick to your ribs and helps you feel full for a long time. Sometimes called ugali, posho is simply fine, white corn flour that is thoroughly mixed with boiling water until it stiffens into a smooth, doughy consistency.
You may think this is a bland Uganda food, but when you eat it with other dishes like soups and beans, it enriches the overall meal and leaves you feeling satisfied.
Muchomo is derived from a Swahili word that means “roasted meat.” Muchomo is a tasty Uganda food that includes various meats ranging from chicken to pork, goat, and sometimes beef.
You’ll find these meat portions barbecued on a stick and served at roadside stalls, markets, and restaurants, often accompanied by roasted sweet plantains (known as gonja).
In Mexico, they have corn tortillas. In the U.S., they have biscuits or cornbread, and in France, they often have croissants. Every culture around the world has its one bread staple that they eat with everything. In Uganda, that bread staple is chapati.
Made with wheat flour, baking powder, salt and water, chapatis are then rolled out into a pastry crust and often fried in a small amount of oil to thicken them.
Once cooked, you can do all sorts of things with chapatis. You can eat them alone or with beans or soup, or even with tea. You can also use them as a wrap to hold minced meat and vegetables inside.
You know you can’t leave Uganda without trying out its national dish. Matoke (sometimes spelled matooke) is a banana variety that is considered more of a plantain. Ugandans love to take the green, unripe ones and steam them while still unpeeled.
However, sometimes the plantains are peeled and then steamed. The plantains are then mashed and eaten. Occasionally, matoke is fried with tomatoes and onions.
An Indian-influenced alternative to matoke is making the fruit into a curry and adding spices to it.
And here’s how to make matoke in peanut sauce.
If you eat a traditional breakfast like the Ugandans, you probably won’t need to eat much else for the rest of the day. In Uganda, katogo starts your day off with a hearty portion of fried plantains served with soup, beans, beef and vegetables.
Some people may prepare this Uganda food with variations that include Irish potatoes, greens, cassava, sweet potatoes, or viscera from goats, chicken or cows. Most of the ingredients of katogo are cooked together in the same pot.
7. TV Chicken
A savory Uganda food that is popular among college students and the younger generation, TV chicken is so called because it is roasted in a rotisserie oven that resembles a television.
You will probably find succulent TV chicken offerings for sale at various roadside stalls and restaurants alike, often served with salads, smoked bananas, and French fries.
8. Groundnut Sauce
When in Uganda, you will hear this dish called g-nut sauce. This is the stuff that makes many Uganda dishes taste so yummy and rich. Made from sweet red peanuts into a creamy sauce, groundnut sauce is often served with dishes such as roasted fish, sweet potatoes, and matoke (boiled, mashed plantain).
Here’s what a g-nut and sweet potato dish looks like:
Every culture has its comfort foods, and chaloko is one of them. Chaloko is a traditional Uganda food dish that is made with pinto beans, green peppers, tomatoes, and red or purple onions. You aren’t doing this dish right unless you eat it with posho, which makes it fill up your belly all nice and satisfying.
If you are in the mood for something sweet, mandazi should hit the spot for you. Similar to a donut minus the hole, mandazi is a fried bread that is sweetened with coconut milk and shaped into circles or triangles.
Sometimes, sugar and cinnamon are added as well. You can eat mandazi by itself or by dipping it in tea, juice or fruit dip.
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Rolex is one of the Uganda food dishes you really must try because it is one of the most popular foods in the country.
Found cheap and readily available at most roadside stalls, rolex is served in variations but often consists of eggs cooked into an omelette along with tomato, onion and cabbage. The omelette is then topped or wrapped (rolled up) with a chapati. Some vendors may even add in minced meat to the rolex.
12. Ugandan Egg Roll
A Ugandan egg roll is nothing like a Chinese egg roll, which is popular around the world. In Uganda, an egg roll consists of a hard-boiled egg that is hidden inside a ball of mashed potatoes and then golden-fried in cooking oil. This delicious food can be eaten for breakfast, lunch, or as a side dish. Here’s the recipe.
13. Sim Sim Cookies
Sim-sim cookies are a dessert that may remind many Westerners of peanut brittle, only this treat is cooked with sesame seeds instead of peanuts.
Sim-sim cookies are made by heating a mixture of sesame seeds and sugar (or honey) until a paste is formed. Afterward, the mixture is poured out onto a flat surface to cool and then sliced into individual squares.
If you want a hearty, satisfying meal, chickennat is a Uganda food you must definitely sample. This dish is made by cooking cut chicken pieces in a stew pot with onions, chicken stock, seasonings, and a peanut butter paste.
Once chickennat is finished cooking, it is usually served with rice or posho, which will leave you feeling full for a good while.
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Why not try one of Uganda’s unusual delicacies? Nsenene is a popular dish of fried grasshoppers that are often sold in pubs and roadside eateries.
You can only get this popular snack during the rainy season, particularly in November. Before being fried in the grasshoppers’ natural oils, the insects’ wings and legs are removed. You may see some market and roadside vendors selling the grasshoppers in plastic tubs that you can buy and fry yourself. In pubs, you may be served this treat with your beer.
16. Ugandan Curried Cabbage
You will love this curried cabbage dish that is a flavorful Ugandan food with a bit of an Indian cuisine twist.
The dish involves shredded cabbage steamed in a pot of cooked onions, carrots, green peppers, tomatoes, garlic, ginger and curry powder (or turmeric powder). You can enjoy Ugandan curried cabbage by itself or as a side dish.
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You won’t find a shortage of beverages in Uganda.
In addition to soft drinks and various fruit juices, tea and coffee are popular drinks. Tea (chai) in Uganda is made with part water and part milk with ginger and other spices sometimes added.
As for alcoholic beverages, Western beers are usually available across the country as well as locally fermented drinks such as banana beers and wines that include pombe, lubisi, and tonto. Uganda Waragi is a local brand name for distilled, clear or yellow gin.
Where to Try Uganda Cuisine (3 Options)
1. Roadside Eateries
You will find most roadside eateries in the busy parts of small-town centers. Food is cheaper here and usually consists of roasted meat, TV chicken, chapatis, rolexes, and fresh vegetables and fruits such as plantains, yams and cassava.
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Since the markets are where villagers bring their home-grown products to sell on a daily basis, you will find the likes of fresh potatoes, bananas, beans, peas and cassava as well as beef, chicken and fish. You may also find some vendors at markets selling pre-cooked dishes such as matoke, rolex and TV chicken.
Restaurants are good places to sit down and savor traditional Uganda food dishes such as luwombo, chaloko and chickennat.
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Experiencing a country’s cuisine is all a part of the whole travel experience, and this is every bit true for Uganda. Trying the country’s different foods offers you an overall feel of its heart and soul. So, which of the dishes on this list are you most eager to sample?
Hi, I’m Dena Haines. And I’m co-founder of Storyteller travel. I love to cover food, animals, and destinations around the world. I also blog about photography at ClickLikeThis.