Ugali For Beginners

East African ugali
  • 2 to 2 1/2 cups maize flour (parboil is best for beginners)
  • 1/2 cup Cassava flour (optional) not recommended for a beginners.
  • 5 cups water
  • 1 cup extra water
  1. Mix maize and cassava flour. Sift. (You can also follow the video at the end of the recipe.)
  2. In a bowl, mix 2 tbsp. to 1/4 cup of flour with about a cup of room temperature water. Set aside.
  3. Boil 5 cups of water in a pan that has a long-handle. Once the water boils, take about 1/2 to a cup of water and mix in the bowl from instruction number 2. Mix well. Then pour the mixture in the boiling water at the same time whisk. Continue to whisk until the porridge boils. After the porridge boils, set your timer to ten minutes. Continue to whisk so that the porridge will not flow over the cooking pot. 
  4. Next, you must continue to whisk, then add about 2 tbsp of flour at a time using sifter. Using sifter helps to eliminate lumps. This is only for beginners. When you get used to cooking ugali, you will not need to use a whisk or a sifter. You will just add flour using a cup in a cooking pot using and mix with ugali cooking spoon. 
  5. Once you feel the porridge is heavy and it is getting hard to use whisk, switch to a wooden cooking spoon. Continue to add flour a little at a time until you reach desired thickness. I prefer my ugali to be very soft. 
  6. One thing you need to know about cooking ugali is that, you do not need to use all the flour you are given from the ingredient list. Also you may need more than what you are given from the ingredient list. Please add or reduce as you are please because there is no restrictions of the quantity of flour and water when you are cooking ugali. It is all up the cook. I just gave you ingredients quantity as a guide. That is the beauty of cooking ugali. 
  7. Continue to cook for about 10 to 20 minutes depending on your flour. When it is smooth and not flaky; taste, you will know if ugali is ready to serve. If you use maize flour made from parboiled maize or corn, then after ten minutes you may be done. If you are using raw flour, you may take 10 to 20 minutes to cook.
  8. Once cooked transfer ugali to a serving dish. Use a spoon to serve to your plate. Serve as a side dish with meat or fish stew, veggies and anything you want.
  9. Enjoy.

VIDEO: Instructional ugali recipe for beginners

DRUMS BY: Myself, Miriam R. Malaquias

Ugali is staple in East Africa, so as many other African countries, though they may not use the same name. Other names used in Africa are:

  • Akamu—Nigeria; also known as sakora
  • Arega—Kenya; also known as, buru, chenge, kimnyet, kuon, ngima, nkima, mogo, Obusuma,
  • Bando—Uganda; also known as, busima, Kwen wunga, Kawunga, posho, 
  • Bogobe—Botswana
  • Bugali—Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burundi, Sudan, Rwanda
  • Chima—Mozambique; also known as upswa and Xima
  • Fufu—West Africa; Benin, Cote D’Ivoire, Ghana, Nigeria, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Togo 
  • Funji—Angola 
  • Isitshwala—Botswana
  • Mieliepap—South Africa and Lesotho
  • Ngima—Kenya 
  • Nshima—Zambia
  • Nsima—Malawi and Kenya 
  • Matoke—Uganda and Tanzania
  • Pap—South Africa and Lesotho
  • Sadxa/sadza—Zimbabwe
  • Soor—Somalia and Zambia
  • Ubugali—Rwanda

Cooking this meal can be slightly different from country to country. West African fufu is boiled first then pounded using a traditional mortal and pestle which is very unique. In East Africa and other parts of Africa use flour.
This staple food in Africa is a mix of water and flour from maize, cassava, millet, sorghum, or boiled, then pounded cassava, bananas, plantain, potatoes and yams.

Ugali is inexpensive meal served with veggies and meat. Some tribes also eat with traditional kind of yogurt. Loved by poor and upper classes families. Some people say to eat ugali is to be strong.

How you serve ugali is your choice. You can serve on the side of the plate with other side dishes around; or you can serve in a plate or bowl and add meat stew and vegetables on top of ugali. Many Africans eat ugali with their hands. In modern day, many are also using spoon, fork and knife.

Also let’s not forget our African families based on history who were shipped to America and the Caribbean for slavery. They do have similar dish. In America known as grits—use very course maize/corn. In the Caribbean and South America known as funchi, finjie, funche and mayi moulin.

Not to forget the Italians have polenta. It is the same family of ugali

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