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A simple, yet filling dish made primarily from white cornmeal (maize flour) and water. Ugali has a dough-like consistency and is traditionally served as an accompaniment to meat, vegetable stews, and sauces. Its ability to be easily shaped makes it a perfect utensil for scooping up sauces and stews. 


2 c cornmeal (white cornmeal)
4 c water
2 pn salt (optional)


In a large pot, bring the 4 cups of water to a boil. If you choose, add a pinch of salt to the water.

Reduce the heat to medium and gradually add the cornmeal to the boiling water, stirring continuously with a wooden spoon to prevent any lumps from forming.

Keep stirring vigorously as the mixture thickens. This might take some effort, but it's essential to prevent lumps and ensure the ugali cooks evenly.

Continue to cook and stir for about 10-15 minutes until the mixture becomes very thick and starts to pull away from the sides of the pot.

Turn off the heat. Wet a small bowl with water, scoop some ugali into it, and shape it into a smooth, round mound. Invert the bowl onto a plate, releasing the ugali. Repeat with the remaining ugali.

Total time
40 minutes
Cooking time
Preparation time
4 servings


Ugali is best served hot. It's traditionally eaten with your hands by pinching off a small piece, rolling it into a ball, and making an indentation with your thumb to scoop up accompanying stews, meats, or vegetables.

For a softer ugali, add more water as you cook. For a firmer ugali, use less water.


Brown ugali: For a different flavor and more fiber, use whole grain maize flour instead of white maize flour.

Millet or sorghum ugali: In some regions, ugali is made from millet or sorghum flour instead of maize flour, offering a distinct taste and texture.


Ugali's origins can be traced back to when maize was introduced to Africa from the Americas during the transatlantic trade. Over time, it has become a fundamental part of the diet across many African countries, each having its version of the dish. 

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