The above white dish is ugali. To the immediate right sukuma wiki. Below that you will see my good luck twin bananas.
When I started this blog I wanted to write about food. Pretty much all food not meat related trying to focus on vegetarianism, the environment, and travel. Three things that are very important to me. I've succeeded for the most part, but there's been two issues.
Issue 1: I love every aspect of food and food science. I hate feeding children sugar laden cereals, but I love the culture of the cartoons and commercials. I'm often a walking contradiction. This is not really a huge personal conundrum, I just need to update my About Me to reflect that my personal practices don't always reflect my wide spread fascination.
Issue 2: I've stunk up the travel. Except for some things from the boyfriend, Vermonter, the trip Vermonter and I took to Ireland, and a friend abroad in Finland, I really haven't gotten to it much. It's unfortunate but true.
Then today I saw a post on ugali. I have been meaning to do an ugali and sukuma wiki post for a very long time. This was the favorite meal of Vermonter while we were in Kenya. And it is a bit simpler than my favorite meal of pojo and chapati so I thought I would cover it first.
Well, looks like there's no better time to post about it than when someone else does it, gives you a great post to link to, and you suddenly feel thrust in. Ugali is basically just a maize brick if you will. You put it over heat, mix it with water, pound it, really get into it, add more water, etc. and then it comes out this giant brick of starch generally resembling the shape of your pot. It is generally both cheap and extremely filling. The generally applies to the cheap, it's always filling.
Sukuma wiki is almost like the Kenyan version of what us southerners call mixed greens. It's usually a kale mix but it can vary. Sukuma wiki literally translates into "stretch the week." When you don't have money, but have to eat, which is often, you turn to sukuma wiki. In traditional Kenya fashion you eat with your hands by ripping a chunk off the block of ugali, mushing it in your hands some, and using it sort of like a spoon to grab some Sukuma wiki.
Vermonter could not get enough of this stuff. I loved it too, don't get me wrong, just not as much as I loved pojo and chapati. More later.
the kitchn has a great little read about ugali, and it is why I felt compelled to finally write about it. I'll be honest though, while lovely, their pictures look nothing like ugali I ever saw. It obviously is ugali, but I've never seen ugali not come out in tall thick blocks. It looks like their ugali may have been made in a more westernized kitchen, which suggests maybe it wasn't made in a tall pot and that's why it has a much different shape. Anyways, I've substituted my picture so you can see what I saw everywhere I went.
No one really cooks in pots this big, but this is at the school Vermonter worked at and he's cooking for tons of children.
This is my Mama, Mama B. She is who I lived with for a lot of my time in Mombasa, and even when I didn't live with her you could find me at her stall eating her chapati every morning. She is the best chapati maker. Hands down. This statement would be supported by Vermonter. Mama B's pot here is a more accurate representation of ugali being made in the home.