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The meaning of «ugali»

Ugali, or nsima, is a type of stiff maize flour porridge made in Africa.[1] It is also known as vuswa, bogobe, fufu, gauli, gima, isitshwala, kimnyet, kuon, mieliepap, ngima, nshima, obokima, obuchima, obusuma, oshifima, oruhere, pap, phutu, posho, sadza, ubugali, umutsima, and obusuma, among other names. Nsima is sometimes made from other flours, such as millet or sorghum flour, and is sometimes mixed with cassava flour.[citation needed] It is cooked in boiling water or milk until it reaches a stiff or firm dough-like consistency.[2] In 2017, the dish was added to the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, one of a few foods in the list.[3]

This dish is eaten widely across Africa, where it has different local names:

The word ugali is an African language term derived from Swahili, it is also widely known as nsima in Malawian languages such as Chichewa and Chitumbuka. In parts of Kenya, the dish also goes by the informal, "street" name of nguna or donee.[13] The Afrikaans name (mielie)pap comes from Dutch, where the term means "(corn) porridge".

Maize was introduced to Africa from the Americas between the 16th and 17th century. Before this, sorghum and millet were the staple cereals in most of Sub-Saharan Africa. Maize was readily accepted by African farmers as its cultivation was very similar to that of sorghum but with significantly higher yields. Eventually, maize displaced sorghum as the primary cereal in all but the drier regions. The full replacement of these crops with maize took place in the latter half of the twentieth century.[14] In Malawi, they have a saying 'chimanga ndi moyo' which translates to 'maize is life'.[15] Nshima/nsima is still sometimes made from sorghum flour though it is quite uncommon to find this. Cassava, which was also introduced from the Americas, can also be used to make nshima/nsima, either exclusively or mixed with maize flour. In Malawi nsima made from cassava (chinangwa) is localized to the lakeshore areas, however, when maize harvests are poor, cassava nsima can be found all over the country.[16]

Ugali (when it is cooked as porridge, it is called uji) is served with sweet potatoes, ripe bananas, irish potatoes and even bread. Solid ugali is usually served with traditional vegetables, stew or sukumawiki (also known as kale). It is the most common staple starch featured in the local cuisines of the African Great Lakes region and Southern Africa. When ugali is made from another starch, it is usually given a specific regional name.[17]

The traditional method of eating ugali (and the most common in the rural areas) is to roll a lump into a ball with the right hand, and then dip it into a sauce or stew of vegetables or meat. Making a depression with the thumb allows the ugali to be used to scoop, and to wrap around pieces of meat to pick them up in the same way that flatbread is used in other cultures. Leftover ugali can also be eaten with tea the following morning.[18]

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