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Ugali - Kenyan Staple Food - is Tamales in Belize

There was a time I was watching Oprah and she was talking about the poor Kenyans and their staple food Ugali. She pathetically said how people eat ugali and that it is just a corn meal. What she missed or was not told is that ugali alone does not make a complete meal; eating ugali on its own is like eating pasta without sauce, or potatoes without sauce, of course that would be tasteless.  Ugali is normally eaten with a sauce and greens most preferably; the tastier the sauce the more enjoyable the Ugali. Okay back to ugali in Belize.

I was introduced to a food called tamales. It was
wrapped in banana (sometimes maize/corn) leaves and looked like it was actually steam or boiled in the leaves. So I unwrapped it and saw something like corn meal. I decided to cut through with my folk and voila!  A surprise; inside there was a filling. Looks like a sauce was filled inside (similar to the way we prepare cutlets). And when I took a bite I was surprised that it tastes like ugali! There is ugali in Belize! Yes the corn meal surrounding the sauce tastes exactly like ugali. Tamales preparation method is different but the finished product is the same as ugali.

The only difference between tamales and ugali  is that tamales is like ugali with a filling inside and  Ugali is just corn meal which you have to prepare the sauce separately. It also takes around 2 hours to prepare tamales because of the steaming process but it takes only 10 to 15 minutes to prepare ugali.

The process of ugali preparation is simple but takes years to master. I started learning cooking when I was around 12 and knew how to properly prepare ugali in my early twenties. I remember my mom used to complain my ugali is not properly cooked through but had a problem figuring that out. This is the main problem with ugali first learners; not knowing the difference between a properly and unproperly cooked ugali.

There are so many recipes for ugali online but someone has to show you the technique to know how to prepare it properly.


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  1. Dirishani said...:

    Thank you for stopping by, your blog is eye opening.

  1. Malok Mading said...:

    I sometime eat ugali but chapo is more delicious.
    Great post Diri!

  1. Kipkirui Langat said...:

    Did someone brief Oprah a bout this blog to go through? Jesus how could she say that?

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