When I was growing up, one of the things my mother instilled in me was the art of making first-class ugali.
I recall the lessons started when I was in Class One. Back then, I remember she would call me before she started cooking so that I can learn everything step by step.
And by the time I completed High School, I had cooked so many good and bad ugalis under her watch, when I was getting married I had become a certified ugali expert.
So where am I headed with this ugali business? Well, it has come to my attention that a good number of upward-moving career mamas and extraordinary stay-at-home mums have wanting ugali cooking skills.The other day my husband and I visited a couple friend for lunch and the gracious woman (from some part of Kenya) knowing full well we are from the lakeside, thoughtfully decided to make us ugali and fish.Though her fish was equally bad, what particularly shook me to the bone was her pathetic ugali.
It was so horrendous! My husband just touched one scoop and signaled me that he could not go on. He tactfully avoided eating it without arousing the interest of our gracious host. Now there is some pride in men from our region, that they cannot eat uncooked ugali, they would rather starve.
But my humble and polite self, ate the whole uncooked mess that I had served plus my husband’s. The interesting thing is that while I was enduring, my friend’s husband was really enjoying the uncooked mix. It’s like he had no clue he was being given a raw deal (pun intended).
My husband has grown up in a home of ugali experts, he can spot an uncooked one right when it is presented in front of him. He says an uncooked ugali is so timid, he can spot it from the door.
Because friends are there to sharpen each other, after that nasty episode, I spoke to my friend and promised to teach her how to cook proper ugali.
So today for the benefit of all mamas who’ve been torturing their men with uncooked maize meal in the name of ugali, I will share some of my secrets of making tantalizing ugali.
The jiko: Yes you can cook good ugali on a gas cooker, but if you want to take it to the next level, jiko is the magic.
Remember Lupita Nyongo’s debut ugali making lessons? There is something insanely hot about jiko heat that does wonders to the ugali, a gas flame cannot match up.
When to start kneading: The secret to cooking well-cooked ugali is to know the moment to start kneading after the water has boiled. After the water has boiled add some little flour, and wait for it to boil again. And when it starts to boil, make a cross sign on the ugali, to allow the boiling water to pop over, then start kneading. Finally, always give the ugali time to cook by covering it with a lid for a few minutes. There you go!
The writer is a married working mother of a toddler boy and a preschooler daughter. She shares her day-today-life experience of juggling between career, family and social life