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Uganda Network

Foods Grown in Uganda
Here is some information on food grown in Uganda and ideas for activities and some recipes. Bananas came to Africa nearly 1,000 years ago. The Latin name 'Musa Sapientium' means 'fruit of the wisemen'. They are a cash crop in tropical Africa. Each banana plant bears one stem carrying between 100 and 200 bananas.

Plantains or green bananas are the staple food in areas of East and West Africa. They are a larger type of banana, less sweet with a tougher flesh and they need cooking.

A popular dish is called 'matoke'. The bananas are wrapped in a banana leaf and steam cooked, then mashed and shaped into small balls. They are served with meat, fish or groundnuts.

They can also be fried. Unripe plantains take twenty minutes and ripe ones just ten minutes to cook.

The unripe fruit is sometimes dried in the oven and eaten like bread. When dried it may be kept for a long time without spoiling and can be carried on a long journey.

Millet is a seed that looks like grains of sand. It is boiled like rice, or pounded to make into coarse flour for porridges. Women grind the millet into flour in the traditional fashion using a small heavy rock.

Activity - Make Your Own Flour

Visit a health food store and purchase some cereals. Have a go at pounding them to make your own flour. Use this flour to make some pancakes or scones.

Activity - Plant a Peanut

Peanuts - also known as groundnuts or monkey nuts. These play an important part in the diet of people in Uganda as they contain valuable protein, fat and carbohydrates.

Peanuts originally came from South America. Portuguese sailors took them across the seas to Africa in the 16th century. The seeds are planted in rows. The yellow flowers turn into brown pods, each containing one or two nuts. The pods turn down into the ground and bury themselves beneath the surface, hence the name 'Groundnuts'. They are dug up at harvest time, when some are kept for seed, some for cooking, some for making into vegetable oil and the rest sold. Each nut contains between 40% and 50% of oil and is used in margarine, ice cream and sweets.

The peanut will need plenty of warmth (not less than 21 C) to encourage germination and then the pot can be placed on a warm, sunny window sill for the plant to complete its life cycle.

Make sure the peanuts are not the roasted variety. They can be shelled or remain in their shell. If the latter, crack the shell across the middle to let in the moisture.

  1. Put some soilless potting compost into a fairly large plant pot.
  2. Plant peanuts in groups two centimetres deep. They can be thinned out later.
  3. Cover the pot with polythene and place above a radiator or in an airing cupboard for around two to three weeks.
  4. Once sprouted, keep in full light in a warm place. It is important to keep the plant moist.
The best time for planting is March or April so that the peanut can take advantage of the warm, light summer days. As it begins to grow, the peanut looks like a large clover. It will produce yellow flowers during the summer followed by the seed pods. These are pushed down below the surface where they develop into the nut we all know.

Activity - Make Peanut Butter

  1. Grind some roasted peanuts in a blender.
  2. Add some vegetable oil if needed.
  3. Add salt to taste and put into a jar.

Activity - Bake a Peanut Loaf

Mix together two cups of cooked rice with two cups of ground peanuts. Beat together three eggs with one and a half cups of milk and add to the rice mixture. Season with salt and pepper. Pour into a greased loaf tin and bake in a moderate oven until it springs back to the touch. Ice the top with cream cheese and a little icing sugar when cool.

Activity - Cook Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes have a pinkish skin and are a very popular crop with most families growing their own. They are not really related to the potato. They are usually peeled, chopped into chunks, boiled for twenty minutes then mashed and eaten like ordinary potatoes.

In the UK sweet potatoes can be bought from most large supermarkets. Try cooking and eating them, they can be cooked in much the same way as the more usual potatoes that we use. How do they compare with our own potatoes?

Activity - Plant a Sweet Potato

The sweet potato is related to the climber 'Morning Glory' and is itself a strong climber unlike our conventional potatoes.

Try growing your own in a medium size pot. Fill the pot two-thirds full of soilless potting compost, moisten and lay two tubers on it.

Cover with two and half centimetres of compost and place in a warm place. They will need support as they grow. Keep them well watered at all times.

Activity - Make a Sweet Treat with potatoes

  1. Mix together 3508 icing sugar and 1758 desiccated coconut then work into 75g of potatoes which have been cooked, mashed and cooled.
  2. Press the mixture into a shallow greased square tin.
  3. Chill for one hour and then cut into square

Cassava and Maize

Cassava is a root vegetable and has dark-brown hairy skin. It is peeled, cut and boiled for twenty minutes. Sometimes the root is dried in the sun and pounded into flour. The root consists almost entirely of starch with less than 1% protein. It also has less iron and Bcomplex vitamins than cereal grains contain.

Maize is an important cereal in East Africa and is used to make a porridge called 'ugali'. It can be eaten on its own or with meat or vegetable stew.

Activity - Tasting Cassava - Tapioca Pudding

Look on the supermarket shelves for a tin of tapioca pudding or look for a packet from which you can make your own pudding. Have your members ever tasted tapioca pudding?

Tapioca is made from the roots of the cassava. The grated root is mixed with clean water and left to stand until the pure starch grains have slowly settled onto the bottom and the dirt is poured off. This process is repeated several times. It is then cooked over a low heat. As the starch grains cook, they stick together to form little balls.

Before the pure starch is cooked it.is known as tapioca flour. It can be used to make a fine adhesive such as is used on postage stamps.

Contact the Uganda Network Copyright © The UK Uganda Network - 2002
Last modified 3 January 2004


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