Sunday, 3 January 2010


The fates decreed, not I, that the article on Uganda for my monster Encylopedia would be written by me. Not the first time I have written something about which I know nothing. Luckily I had a friend of a friend, Roger Serunyigo, tell me all he could from the inside, as someone in the Baganda culture, and whose mom is apparently a fantastic cook.

So today I decided to make matooke. Plantains are not as good as little green bananas from S.E. Asia, which came out nice. Wrapped in banana leaves and steamed. Then mashed. And I was told cooked over a real fire makes everything taste better. I am now cerain of that. So, the main dish is Luwombo. For the book I wrote the recipe with chicken, but trust me, beef was unfathomably delicious. You need a really tough fatty cut. I used back ribs, cut off the bone. Use an expensive cut and this will probably be awful.

You first brown some onions, throw in some grated ginger, some salt and pepper, a few chopped tomatoes, and then a lot of real finely pounded peanuts. It's not peanut butter, just ground peanuts. Then quickly grill the beef, which has been cut into small pieces, over a fire. Real fire. After barely browned, throw it into the sauce. Then wrap this whole mixture in banana leaves and tie on top with several strands of banana leaves. Any S.E. Asian shop sells them frozen.

Then put them in a big pot, over an upturned plate, with some water on the bottom, with the matooke too, cover and put on a charcoal fire, and let it steam for a couple of hours. Must be eaten with fingers. Well, actually not, but I prefer my fingers!

Can I say, I have never tasted anything like this in my life. The leaves so intensely flavor everything, no other seasoning is necessary. The beef is soft and pliable, but still chewy, not a stew, but a steamed meat with peanut sauce dish. I could have eaten it all but didn't. No one else in my house would touch it. Anyone like Ugandan food, come over any time.
Any if anyone can explain the sexual politics of luwombo to me, please do! I think if a woman cooks it for a man, it means she wants him. And a man should never marry a woman who can't cook it. Where does that put me??

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