Ugali Recipe: The Heart and Soul of Kenyan Cuisine

Welcome to the authentic flavors of East Africa! Join us as we dive into the unique Ugali recipe, a staple and flavorful dish that represents the essence of this region. Most traditional Ugali recipes use white cornmeal. It is very similar to Italian Polenta and is a main staple eaten daily, throughout Africa, with meat sauce and vegetables.

It has many different names; in East Africa it’s Ugali, in West Africa recipeFufu, and in Southern Africa – its Sadza.

Ugali - Keesha's Kitchen


Step into the heart of East African cuisine with our UGALI recipe—a cherished dish that resonates with tradition, simplicity, and a deep connection to the region's cultural heritage. Discover the art of transforming maize flour into a staple that's not just nourishing but also a symbol of unity and togetherness. Join us as we unveil the magic of UGALI, inviting you to savor the taste of East Africa on your plate.
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Africa
Servings 4 servings
Calories 500 kcal


  • 1 bowl
  • 1 egg beater
  • 1 pan
  • 1 flat wooden spatula


  • 2 cups White cornmeal
  • Salt to taste


  • Bring water to a rapid boil.
  • Gradually add cornmeal, stirring with a whisk to prevent any lumps from forming.
  • Reduce heat to simmer and cook for 10-15 minutes. Every two minutes, using the folding method and a flat wooden spatula, scoop the mixture from the bottom of the pan to prevent any sticking.
  • Remove from heat and place ugali on a large plate. Wet the wooden spatula and use it to form a perfect cake mould shape.



Ugali is best served with stir fried vegetables or a meat sauce. In Kenya, it is eaten with Nyama Choma (Grilled barbeque meat) and Katchumbari (A type of Salsa). The combination is great!
It especially good with Sukuma wiki (Stir Fried Kale) and Beef. When making it for the first time, try it with any of the options listed below:
Grilled Goat Roast
Kenyan Cabbage Stew
Kenyan Beef Stew
Spicy Kale
Stir Fry Cabbage recipe

If you are looking for other gluten free options, try making it with coarse white or brown rice flour. You can also use millet or sorghum.
Keyword starch

Cooking tips Ugali Recipe

Ugali (Corn Fufu) Recipe - PI African Market

  • Water Ratio Matters: The key to a smooth UGALI lies in the water-to-maize flour ratio. Start with a 2:1 water-to-flour ratio and adjust as needed for desired consistency.
  • Gradual Maize Addition: Slowly incorporate the maize flour into simmering water while continuously stirring. This prevents lumps and ensures even distribution.
  • Stir Constantly: Stirring is essential to avoid lumps and achieve the desired consistency. Use a sturdy wooden spoon and maintain a consistent pace.
  • Control Heat: Start with medium heat to bring the mixture to a boil. Once it thickens, reduce the heat to low and continue stirring to prevent burning.
  • Knead and Rest: After cooking, knead the UGALI to eliminate any remaining lumps. Allow it to rest for a few minutes to set before serving.
  • Serve Warm: UGALI is best enjoyed warm, as it tends to firm up as it cools. Serve it with your favorite stews, sauces, or vegetables.
  • Texture Adjustments: The level of water and stirring duration affects the final texture. For a softer UGALI, use more water and stir longer; for a firmer texture, use less water and stir less.
  • Practice Patience: Achieving the perfect UGALI consistency may take some practice. Don’t be discouraged if your first attempt isn’t flawless—it’s all part of the learning process.
  • Pairing Perfection: UGALI is traditionally served with a variety of dishes, from savory stews to sautéed vegetables. Explore different pairings to find your favorite combinations.
  • Cultural Connection: Embrace the cultural significance of UGALI by sharing it with friends and family. It’s a dish that brings people together and encourages conversations.

Serving Suggestions Ugali Recipe

How to cook the perfect ugali recipe and serve with braai -

  • Savory Stews: UGALI pairs wonderfully with rich and flavorful stews such as sukuma wiki (collard greens), nyama choma (grilled meat), or kachumbari (fresh tomato and onion salad). The combination of hearty stews and UGALI creates a satisfying and balanced meal.
  • Saucy Vegetables: Enhance the nutritional value of UGALI by serving it with sautéed vegetables like spinach, kale, or cabbage. The soft UGALI texture complements the slightly crunchy vegetables for a harmonious bite.
  • Legume Delights: Legume-based dishes like lentils or beans are a perfect match for UGALI. The UGALI’s neutral flavor allows the legumes’ seasoning to shine, creating a comforting and nourishing meal.
  • Creamy Soups: Pair UGALI with creamy soups like mchuzi wa samaki (fish soup) or mchuzi wa nyama (meat soup) for a delightful contrast in textures. The combination adds depth and complexity to your dining experience.
  • Protein Rich Additions: Top your UGALI with grilled or pan-fried fish, chicken, or beef for an added protein punch. The UGALI provides a satisfying base that complements the protein’s flavors.
  • Elevated Condiments: Elevate your UGALI with flavorful condiments such as coconut chutney, peanut sauce, or a tangy tamarind dip. These additions bring an exciting twist to the classic dish.
  • Spicy Sides: For those who appreciate a spicy kick, serve UGALI with a side of pili pili (hot pepper) or chili sauce. The heat pairs harmoniously with the UGALI’s simplicity.
  • Comforting Curries: UGALI can be a perfect companion for various curries, both vegetarian and meat-based. The combination of UGALI’s mild taste and the aromatic curries is a match made in culinary heaven.
  • Traditional Accompaniments: Embrace the authenticity of UGALI by serving it with traditional side dishes like irio (mashed vegetables and beans) or sukuma wiki with a touch of chili.
  • Fruit Compote: For a unique twist, try pairing UGALI with a sweet fruit compote. The contrast of the warm UGALI with the cool, fruity flavors offers a delightful ending to your meal.

Join us as we unravel the intricacies of the UGALI recipe, offering insights, tips, and serving suggestions that honor its legacy while inviting you to create your own memories around this cherished dish. Whether you’re familiar with the flavors of East Africa or exploring them for the first time, UGALI promises to be a culinary adventure that connects you with the heart and soul of this diverse and vibrant region. So, let’s embark on this flavorful journey and unlock the magic of UGALI together.


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