Monday, September 3, 2018

Vegan Mofo 2018 Post 2: Ugali

A chunk of ugali into yesterday's groundnut stew (which I transformed into groundnut soup today). 

Welcome to day two of Vegan Mofo and the foods of Africa theme.
Ugali, or corn fufu, essentially cornmeal mush, is eaten with the hands. Derived from all over Western Africa and called various names, ugali is the staple of Kenya, comprised of inexpensive starch that all classes are able to consume, especially the less fortunate. In Luhya wedding ceremonies, the bride's high table has ugali among her dishes for guests.
Imma of Immaculate Bites thinks that people are uptight about the authenticity of making ugali overseas, claiming that she has even made it with Jiffy Cornbread Mix. Thus, white or yellow cornmeal doesn't matter as long as the consistency is right. She also salts hers and typically ugali is just water and cornmeal.
Still, it's delicious. It's polenta!

Ugali Ingredients and Preparation

4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cup fine ground cornmeal

Bring water and salt to a boil.
Reserve one cup of water.
Add the cornmeal in gradually, stirring and beating down any forming lumps at the same time.

After tirelessly stirring and beating lumps into submission, add the water and cover for 10 minutes. Scoop this out of the pot and shape it into a bowl/

From the bowl, the molded ugali has emerged onto the plate.

Amazing with the leftover soup!


  1. You know I don't really like polenta the traditional way, but I feel like I might like it as you're eating it, with soup!

    1. Thank you. I'm sorry that you're not a polenta fan. It's so good. Maybe try with the soup to see if your mind could be persuaded?

  2. You make me miss a Kenyan friend of mine who used to make ugali to go with a Chinese friend's stew--now that was a fusion meal! It was so, so good, too. She taught me how to make little ugali spoons with my fingers to scoop it up. Maybe I'll try it on my own soon. Thanks for bringing back that memory to me.

    1. Thank you for sharing a sweet memory. That was mighty kind of her to make you ugali and show you how to eat it with your hands-- the traditional way. And you're very welcomed.

  3. Sounds interesting. I like Imma's comment about authenticity. Learning about cuisine from around the world, there is a lot of talk about how immigrants have to work with new ingredients for old dishes, but I don't think we talk about how that makes their food less "authentic." I am not a huge polenta fan either, but this looks really yummy. I know I need to give it another chance.

    1. Thank you, Jennifer. She's right about authenticity. In most of Africa, Ugali and its other names across the continent are usually made with white cornflour. Here we make due managing what is available despite how it appears to natives who believe yellow cornflour/cornmeal (and other traditional ingredients like cardamom and cumin arguments) is a true portrayal of their recipe heirlooms. Polenta is so delicious. I love its grainy texture and versatility.

    2. I think it gets more confusing because I know in the UK they call cornstarch cornflour.