Ugandan Cuisine 101: What to eat when travelling in Uganda

If you are someone who travels often and far, you will know how different it is to visit every new place. Each place has its own culture, traditions and rules. But perhaps what is most different is the food. Even if the place you are visiting has a similar climate and grows basically the same crops, the spices used for cooking and the methods might be completely different. This is important to remember, especially if you are gearing up for a safari in Uganda, which has a tropical climate and grows a lot of different crops and fruits that you might not necessarily be used to. This might be an intimidating prospect for any first timer here, especially if they have any dietary restrictions.

So, in case you are worried that the food debacle might end up ruining your trip, here is a list of things you should keep in mind to make sure you can keep eating healthy and tasty food no matter where you go in Uganda:

What do Ugandans eat?

You should be relieved to know that most Ugandan food consists of meat-based dishes along with something called the ugali, which is a thick paste made by crushing maize. Instead of the many meat dishes, you can also choose to go for an array of spicy and non-spicy sauces and matoke, which is basically green banana that has been cooked and mashed up before being served. Other than meat sews and other dishes, there are a lot of vegetables, nuts and beans that constantly make an appearance on the plate. Nuts and veggies are usually added to the stews for some exquisite texture. Other than that, there’s also a lot of yams, cassava and sweet potatoes involved.

If you are a fan of all those fishy goodies, you should be pleased to know that the many rivers that run through Uganda also provide a lot of fish, including the tilapia and the tigerfish, both of which are local favourites.

Vegan or just craving fruit? Uganda has you covered.

There is a chance that all of those spicy cooked food might leave you craving some fruity sweetness. Well, Ugandans have you covered there too. The country is bursting with the fruity flavours of the mangoes, papayas and the honey-scented jackfruit. The very familiar banana also makes a regular appearance, what with Uganda being the banana republic of Africa and everything.

Desserts and drinks

If you are looking for a culinary adventure, you can always try one of the local delicacies aka fried grasshoppers. But not everyone can think of eating them without gagging first so you can just skip that and try some of the dishes that have been influenced by Indian ones. They are not horribly spicy and are served with the usual chapattis. For dessert, you can have mandazi, which is a dough that has been deep fried then covered in sugar and/or cinnamon. And wash it all down with the local beer that is made by fermenting bananas or millets.

Pro tip: Just remember to avoid local tap water and drink bottled water everywhere. Also, maybe avoid the spicier dishes, especially if you have a sensitive stomach.

Krissy Georgiadis

Written by Krissy Georgiadis

Law graduate and wanderlust sufferer. I like rum and beaches.