Childhood: The Ugali Tale.

My childhood, I miss it so much. I have so many fond memories, but the one that kept lingering on my mind today is the Ugali one, because it was one funny one. But before I even get started, let me publicly declare that ugali happens to be one of my current favorite hot dishes to go down with my eggs, meats and veggies, sometimes even tea. Although the latter leaves people judging me as I chow on my cubed ugali for breakfast. I find it so delicious. Some may say it’s tasteless, others that it’s flavorless, others even find it super shady, but boy oh boy, my love for ugali knows no bounds. And I love it in its most natural state. I have tried it with salt, bleh! With milk and butter, meh! Just the good old corn flour with plain water does the magic for me.

Quick Fix Ingredients: Corn Flour (Jogoo or Hostess) and Water. Method: Boil water in a cooking pot, add the flour as you stir (proportions are based on how much of it you want) and ensure that the water and the flour are very well mixed, it’s important that you do so. Then let it simmer. Turn it up again, and let it simmer. Best way to test whether it’s ready is to ensure that it’s not sticky when you knead it in your palm, and neither should it be too hard that it’s not edible – the yumminess is in between. Also, the layer at the bottom of the cooking pot should be a little burnt. That’s the final guarantee that it’s well-cooked (I learnt this later in life).

I have learnt most of my cooking through observation. So you will find that the way my mum cooks, or the way our then house-help cooks – and given that she was trained by my mum, is more or less the same way I cook. I apply the same principles in the kitchen, although most have evolved by now. You know how us young ones do, we change things up for the better, and we also do away with stuff we didn’t like. Like the extra extra soup on stews and the eggplant (also known as biringanya *sp). I shudder at the thought of that vegetable. It was my nightmare of a vegetable and it’s how our then help would cook it, it was just there. It must have been the first item on her market list because when sent to the market she would buy lots of them and not even once did she ever forget. And of course when we complained, my mum would pull out the ‘healthy things don’t taste good’ card and close that chapter. Until the day she left, and when she did, we never bought them again, thank the Lord.

Thing is, the basics still remain the same. Like for instance, how you will choose to make your rice or your stew – say for the rice, do you boil your hot water in the pot, then add some oil and salt then add rice? OR do you put the rice in the pot first let it heat a little, add some oil and salt, mix it up, then add cold water? Others like frying their rice proper, with onions, tomatoes and many other vegetables. Well, it all goes back to, when you were growing up, who were you observing? You easily pick some of your behaviors, or way of doing things, from the people that you look up to. From your parents, your aunties, your cousins, they are your first point of contact and your introduction to how things are done.

Ugali, Fish fry

Now, in as much as I love this ugali, I once thought it’s one of the most complicated meals to cook then – because there was no formula of how to measure the water and the unga (flour). It’s not like rice where you can say 1 cup of rice against 2 cups of water. You measure with your eyes and you have to practice over and over again so as to know the amount to use based on the number of people you’re cooking for and to get that right texture. And of course the more people you’re cooking for, the more muscle you need. I think if you cook ugali a lot you probably don’t even need to lift weights to get muscles – we should have more ugali jokes to go round. I used to cringe when I think I have to make ugali, but now it’s my go to quickie meal. It comes so naturally, and I believe it does for many of you too.

Watch my Ugali Tale – I opted to tell it through my first ever vlog. I let you in on the experience that prompted me to learn how to make Ugali, because that first attempt was a major fail. I’m glad this one isn’t.

And guys, this is my first video (yaaay). I did something I’ve always feared doing, personal videos – I admire those who do vlogs with such confidence and gusto. Any video I’ve done before is because I needed to do it, for some reason, but today’s, I pushed myself. I wanted to connect with you beyond writing and you just reading. I also need to learn to speak out what I am thinking, because I struggle to put my thoughts together when speaking – it’s like the words just vamoose in thin air – and I’m left there like ‘ah-ah-ummmm-what?’ and when they come back, I blabber. You’ll see it, it happens.

There was even a black out at some point, and I thought I should maybe push the agenda for another day, that maybe it was a sign. Then the lights came back and I didn’t have a valid excuse anymore, besides the fear of blinking myself to oblivion (I blink a lot) and lack of proper equipment and props. But at least I got started with the basics, and here we are.

The 1st step I think is always the hardest because you don’t know how to walk by then. But once you’ve gone one-two steps on, you ease up, and the steps slowly develop into a steady walk.

Now that I’ve done the one-two steps, let’s see how I can improve my ‘vlog’ walk as we go along. Also, share with me what your favorite hot dish is and how you learnt to cook it. Did you go through an embarrassing situation to become the pro you are at cooking it now?

Wishing you blessed week ahead and may you ace in anything you put your hands on. Stay winning!

Signing Off ~~~ *Kawi*