A culinary journey to Uganda: Matoke and peanut sauce

Making Matoke

[img src=http://www.farflungtravels.com/wp-content/flagallery/making-matoke/thumbs/thumbs_7tying.jpg]2791Tying one on
What a pretty package.
[img src=http://www.farflungtravels.com/wp-content/flagallery/making-matoke/thumbs/thumbs_1transport.jpg]3590Taking a break in the shade
Girls transport a light load of bitooke on their bike.
[img src=http://www.farflungtravels.com/wp-content/flagallery/making-matoke/thumbs/thumbs_2thekitchen.jpg]3193The kitchen
Prepping the kitchen for making matoke.
[img src=http://www.farflungtravels.com/wp-content/flagallery/making-matoke/thumbs/thumbs_3bitooke.jpg]2882Bitooke
A bunch of bananas used for making matoke, the main staple of a Ugandan diet.
[img src=http://www.farflungtravels.com/wp-content/flagallery/making-matoke/thumbs/thumbs_4peeling-matoke_0.jpg]2661Helping in the Kitchen
Peeling the bitooke makes a sticky mess.
[img src=http://www.farflungtravels.com/wp-content/flagallery/making-matoke/thumbs/thumbs_5peeling_0.jpg]2451Tools of the Trade
Bitooke and peelings.
[img src=http://www.farflungtravels.com/wp-content/flagallery/making-matoke/thumbs/thumbs_6wrapping.jpg]2291Tucked in
Josephine places banana leaves over the pieces of bitooke before steaming them.
[img src=http://www.farflungtravels.com/wp-content/flagallery/making-matoke/thumbs/thumbs_7wrapmatoke.jpg]2181Wrapping up matoke
After wrapping the bitooke in banana leaves, Josephine ties it tightly.
[img src=http://www.farflungtravels.com/wp-content/flagallery/making-matoke/thumbs/thumbs_8peanut-sauce.jpg]2021Stirring the pot
While the matoke steams in an overstuffed covered pot, Josephine stirs the peanut sauce.
[img src=http://www.farflungtravels.com/wp-content/flagallery/making-matoke/thumbs/thumbs_9peansauce.jpg]1891Boiling peanut sauce
Peanut sauce simmers over a charcoal fire.
[img src=http://www.farflungtravels.com/wp-content/flagallery/making-matoke/thumbs/thumbs_78dish.jpg]1860The Scoop
All done!
[img src=http://www.farflungtravels.com/wp-content/flagallery/making-matoke/thumbs/thumbs_79dish.jpg]1710Ready to serve
Maggie takes breakfast to an ailing patient at the health center.
[img src=http://www.farflungtravels.com/wp-content/flagallery/making-matoke/thumbs/thumbs_90eating.jpg]1750Patient eating Matoke
It may not cure what ails her, but at least her stomach will be full, she says.

The Facebook message read: “Mama, we are at lunch. Matoke and peanuts. Come.”

It didn’t matter I was thousands of miles away from Uganda, I really wanted to be there and sit around the table with my long-lost friends eating matoke topped with peanut sauce, which is a staple food in the country.

Since a last-minute plane ticket was not an option, I set off on a solo culinary journey to Uganda, starting with a trip to the grocery store to buy ingredients to recreate my favorite Ugandan dishes. Matoke is made with bitooke, one of the many varieties of bananas that grow there. The closest equivalent in the United States is the plantain.

For the next hour, I attempted to get the flavor just right, but I knew the matoke would never be as good as the real thing in its proper setting and with the right ingredients — most notably, my Uganda friends.

Related Story: “Ok Matoke”

Matoke and peanut sauce

Matoke and peanut sauce


Matoke Recipe

The traditional way to make matoke is to steam them in banana leaves, but this version is better suited for the western kitchen. This is a mashed version, similiar to making mashed potatoes. It’s then topped with peanut sauce.

Matoke ingredients:
8-10 plantains, peeled and chopped
2 cups of water to boil
Salt, to taste
Optional: 1/2 cup milk and 1 tablespoon of butter

Instructions: Put plantains in a pot, add water and salt, then bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until tender (approximately 20 minutes). Drain, add optional ingredients, then smash them.

Peanut sauce ingredients:
1 cup finely chopped roasted peanuts or creamy peanut butter
1 onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon coriander
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 cup vegetable broth
Salt and pepper, to taste
Optional: 1 red chile, 1 tablespoon of butter and chopped cilantro for garnish

Instructions: Sauté onion and garlic in pan for a couple of minutes. Add spices, pepper and option red chile for 1-2 minutes more. Add vegetable broth and the finely chopped peanuts or peanut butter. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Stir frequently for 5 minutes or so. Serve over mashed plantains (matoke). Add optional cilantro for garnish.

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