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Ugali – The Kenyan Running Superfood

Rob Murray
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Rob Murray

Rob is a self confessed running geek, obsessed with all things related to the sport, whether road, track or triathlon.
Rob Murray
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How To Make Ugali – one of the simplest recipes you’ll ever follow. Many a Kenyan runner swears by the inclusion of national dish Ugali in their diet as fuel for the hours of training they do. A form of porridge, maize flour is mixed with water to create a dough like substance. This can then be used to scoop vegetables or a stew in the same way as naan bread.

Ugali with cabbage - not for everyone!

Ugali with cabbage – not for everyone!

This starchy, polenta-like side dish goes by different names in sub-Saharan Africa. In Malawi and Zambia it is called nsima or nshima. The South African name for it is pap or mealie pap. Zimbabweans call itsadza.

As a staple on the menu of many a Kenyan running training camp, can you afford not to give Ugali a try?


  • Water — 4 cups
  • Salt — 2 teaspoons
  • White cornmeal, finely ground — 2 cups


  1. Bring the water and salt to a boil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Stir in the cornmeal slowly, letting it fall though the fingers of your hand.
  2. Reduce heat to medium-low and continue stirring regularly, smashing any lumps with a spoon, until the mush pulls away from the sides of the pot and becomes very thick, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool somewhat.
  3. Place the ugali into a large serving bowl. Wet your hands with water, form into a ball and serve.


  • White cornmeal is the most commonly used grain for ugali. But you can substitute sorghum, millet or coarse cassava flour or even hominy grits.
  • More or less water can be added to achieve the consistency you prefer.
  • Stir in a little butter if you like for a richer flavor.


  • Ugali is usually served as an accompaniment to meat or vegetable stews, greens or soured milk. To eat ugali, pull off a small ball of mush with your fingers. Form an indentation with your thumb, and use it to scoop up accompanying stews and other dishes. Or you can form larger balls with your hands or an ice cream scoop, place them in individual serving bowls and spoon stew around them.
  • Cornmeal mush is also found in Caribbean creole cuisine and was certainly brought there by imported slaves. On the islands of Curaçao and Aruba it is known as funchi, funjie in the Virgin Islands. In Antigua and Donimica it is calledfungi. Haitians make mayi moulin.

Above recipe from What’s 4 Eats

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Author: Rob Murray

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