Uganda is a land-locked East African country that was once a British colony. The main export industries of Uganda are coffee, tea, and fish. It is a country with rich natural resources, untapped natural and crude gas reserves yet remains one of the poorest countries in the world. Street food in Uganda is everywhere which is a clear sign of the people trying to earn a living any which way possible.
The Ugandan cuisine is a blend of Asian, Arab, Indian, and English influences. Most dishes use starch, meat, and beans. The starch content is either from corn, potatoes, or bananas. The food is simple in spite of the range of influences in the cuisine. Some of the popular street foods in the main cities of Uganda are:
Chapati – Probably the most popular of all Ugandan food is Chapati which is more commonly known as “Rolex.” This is grilled chicken with fried egg wrapped around it and served with beans and rice. It’s cheap, filling, and nutritious.
Matoka – This is the most popular banana variety in Uganda although there are 5 other types. It is almost always served with a meat dish like stew. As a side dish it is either boiled or mashed and then topped with groundnut sauce.
Samosa – These are filled patties that come from the Indian influence. The usual flavor is curried
Mugati – This is a folded flatbread made of eggs and flour with a raw egg and minced meat inside the fold then fried or served on a hotplate
The main issue with Ugandan street food is sanitation. Obviously the food is cheap and more than 40% of Ugandans buy food from street vendors. The vendors are usually untrained in food handling which increases the possibility of unsafe food. It is critical that one buys food that is cooked in front of you instead of buying something that is on display. In some cases, the food isn’t even cooked on the spot but elsewhere and delivered to the vendor, increasing the chances of contamination.
The Ugandan government has a Public Health Act that allows a city health inspector to prevent any street vendor from selling. Unfortunately, the system is not perfect and issues like unclean water or lack of water could lead to a serious medical problem.