If someone asked you if there’s any different way you can make our staple food ugali, pizza would definitely not cross your mind, no matter how long you took to think about it.
Ugali in Kenya is most commonly maize flour and water cooked to a dough-like consistency.
People try and make it interesting by adding ingredients such as margarine but that is literally about as exciting as ugali can be (well, for most of us at least).
Being the staple food of Kenya, ugali is accompanied by the usual sides varieties which include a vegetable and a meat or a pulse.
The truth is we were at Nyama Mama Delta because we wanted to try their famous ugali fries. But then out came Chef Zac who promised to delight us with his ugali pizza and we shrugged, after all, who were we to refuse?
What is ugali pizza you ask? Well, it is a normal pizza except the pizza crust is substituted for a round, crunchy ugali base.
The different texture and taste of the ugali is attributed to the creative preparation method. “Being a chef is all about creativity and here at Nyama Mama we are all about serving unique dishes and ugali pizza is one of them,” Chef Zac tells us.
“I love experimenting with flavours and texture combinations and the first ugali pizza I made was an experiment. The first people to try it were my colleagues here at Nyama Mama. They loved it and that’s how it was added to the menu.”
To make ugali pizza, you first need to make the ugali. Chef Zac explains that for it to be flavourful, best add some herbs and seasoning to the water as it boils.
Next, cook the ugali normally and when ready, mould it to a flat, round shape and pan fry until crispy. Add toppings of your choice for example favourite sauce, tomatoes, cheese, onions, and if you like you could also add pieces of cooked beef, chicken or any other topping.
My first bite was better than I had imagined. The pizza was topped with a smokey tomato, dhania (coriander) sauce with mixed cheese.
The ugali base still held on to the original ugali flavour and the seasoning on the outer crispy coat balanced with the toppings. I envisioned adding a thick beef stew on top but that’s just because I love meat.
This ugali pizza is a fascinating rendition of the otherwise boring ugali and can be a fun meal for the children as well.
I don’t know about you but I think we should consider adding this to our list of must-try Kenyan dishes.
Just don’t let the Italians know!