Kenya: Ugali and sukuma wiki 🇰🇪

Kenya flag.

Ginger, onion and pepper in a food processor.

Ahh, food processors, how do I love thee.

This has been a challenging time for Nation Plates.

There is, of course, the obvious challenge: Eleanor. She keeps us very busy! Experimenting in the kitchen is often interrupted by a hungry/dirty/bored/lonely/tired baby. She’s the most fun to hang out with, but the “frills” of life, like food blogs, go on the metaphorical back burner for the time being.

But now, with a nearly-five-month-old daughter, I am on parental leave, and I have a little more time for my own projects. Which leads to the second challenge:


The last Nation Plate was a tough one because of scale – pig bones, making my own stock, hours of time and energy invested.

My old nemesis, kale, mixed with tomatoes and onions.

My old nemesis, kale, mixed with tomatoes and onions.

This one was a challenge because of kale, my nemesis in the food world.

But the Kenyan national dish, ugali, is often eaten with a kale-like leaf called colewort, and kale or collared greens are the go-to subs for colewort in ugali’s normal accompaniment, sukuma wiki.

Compromises had to be made. I would make sukuma wiki and try some, but I also would make a Kenyan curry, kuku paka, to accompany both.

The ugali, well, it’s African corn mush. It appears in a good chunk of the continent. The sukuma wiki wasn’t awful, for kale, but I’d never eat it again. The curry was a nice touch, but rice would have been a better accompaniment than corn mush.

Mashing the ugali.

Mashing the ugali.

Ugali – via the Congo Cookbook

2:1 water:white cornmeal ratio

Boil water. Slowly mix in cornmeal, stirring continuously and mashing out lumps. Add cornmeal to start – even if you go above the 2:1 ratio – until you get a mush that is thicker than mashed potatoes.

Turn upside-down on a plate and serve, breaking off chunks for eating.

Sukuma Wiki – via the Congo Cookbook

  • 1 lb of kale, chopped into large pieces
  • 2 Tb flour
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 16 oz chopped tomatoes (’tis the season for canned tomatoes)
  • 1 jalapeno, chopped
  • salt
  1. Add about two inches of water to a large pot. Place a steaming vessel above the water, and bring to a boil. Add the kale and steam.
  2. Combine flour and lemon juice, and stir until smooth.
  3. Once kale is steamed, drain. Set aside.
  4. In a separate pan, add some oil. Saute the onion, tomatoes and jalapeno. Add salt to taste, then the flour/lemon mixture. Stir until smooth.
  5. Reduce heat. Add drained kale. Cover and simmer over low heat until greens are fully tender and sauce is thickened.
Clockwise from top: Sukuma wiki, kuku paka and ugali.

Clockwise from top: Sukuma wiki, kuku paka and ugali.