by Winyi Ivan
Uganda is a small country located in East Africa with over 53 tribes which explains the diversity in culture and its cuisine. Our dish today comes from the dominant tribe called Baganda where this country derives its name. Just as we have stews for example chicken stew, we can say “Luwombo” is also a type of cooking method but banana leaf based cooking categorically under steaming as a method of cookery. This dish is mainly served on occasions when the groom to be first visits the bride to be’s parents an occasion called “Kukyaala”. It is by tradition that the “Luwombo” for this occasion is made with no salt, as too much of it will be bad luck for the girl.
- banana leaves/specifically from “mbiire” plant
- local chicken
Method of preparation
Chicken Luwombo is basically chicken steamed in special banana leaves from a specific banana plant locally known as “Embidde”. These banana leaves are made by exposing to medium fire/heat from firewood thus browning them and releasing their delicate aroma. Once this is done next is to partly roast the the whole chicken preferably on charcoal as this adds another delicate charcoal aroma, and then chop it into sizeable pieces. The reason why its partly roasted is to reduce cooking time and also to add another special charcoal aroma. It should be noted the chicken used here is local breeds.
The next step is to chop onions, tomatoes(concasse). Once all these is ready, the next part is to tie the the Luwombo. By this, we place banana plant stalk cut into sizes as base in a saucepan, add cooking liquid into saucepan in this case water just enough to take through the steaming process, then we bring fresh banana leaves and onto we place our special banana leaves which will house our dish. These special banana leaves are got from a specific banana plant type locally called “Embidde”. At this point the idea is to create a balloon shape with our special banana leaves so that our cooking ingredients are held in without pouring out. banana fibres well cut like strings are used to tie these leaves to enclose our chicken pieces and juice contents inside. these fibres are locally called “Ebyaayi”. Fresh banana leaves are then used to cover the whole contents inside so as to trap our steam inside and have minimal escape of this steam which will do most of the cooking. finally we put our “Luwombo” onto fire to cook. this usually takes around 1.5hrs.
Lastly the dish is best served with its leaves as it shows freshness and originality. this also improves on its presentation.