I first read about the Ugali (cornmeal) and Sukuma Wiki (a kale stew with tomatoes) in the Running with the Kenyans book and was amazed at the striking similarity between the Ugali that Kenyan runners eat and Pinole, the staple food for the Tarahumara. Mind you that both of them are amazing runners, so something’s got to be right about that diet, right? The recipes looked simple enough that I figured I had to give it a try. I improvised a little, so it’s not exactly authentic Kenyan cooking, but came out delicious nevertheless.
Kenyan Ugali with Sukuma Wiki
The Ugali is your basic cornmeal prepared very much like how you would make Polenta. The Sukuma Wiki is a stew made with primarily kale, but I’ve seen it done with spinach and collard greens mixed in with the kale. It was interesting to learn that Sukuma Wiki means “week-pusher” or “stretch the week” in Swahili. So when other supplies have run out or if a family is low on meat, this was what they ate. In Running with the Kenyans, Adharanand Finn describes how the Kenyan runners are adamant about eating Ugali with Sukuma Wiki the night before an important race. It’s their way of carbo-loading (the good kind!), I suppose.
This is what you need for the Ugali:
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 2 cups water
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2½ to 3 cups of Masa Harina
and for the Sukuma Wiki:
- 1 big bunch of Kale, chopped
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
- 2 medium tomatoes, diced
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon coriander
- ½ teaspoon turmeric
- 1½ teaspoon salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup of water
- 2 tbsps of Earth Balance Peanut Butter
On a large wok, add a little oil (I used coconut oil) and cook the onions and garlic for 5 minutes until the onions become translucent. Add the cumin, coriander and turmeric, cook for a minute or so and then mix in the tomatoes. When the diced tomatoes start to break down, add in the kale. In a small bowl, heat up the water and then add the peanut butter and stir until it’s mixed in evenly. I love Earth Balance’s peanut butter especially since they use Agave instead of refined sugar. When the kale is almost cooked, add in the peanut sauce and cook until the sauce thickens a bit. This gravy balances the dry cornmeal and makes the combination just perfect. Add in a little ground black pepper and salt to taste.
To make the Ugali, boil the water and the vegetable broth with salt, turn it down to low heat and slowly add in the cornmeal, stirring frequently so they don’t clump up. I especially chose Masa Harina since the corn has gone through nixtamalization and is loaded with calcium. Serve the Ugali in a bowl with the Sukuma Wiki over it with the sauce. I must’ve easily had about three helpings and even though I was full, I was surprised at how light the meal was. Definitely a keeper, this served about 5 with some left over of the Ugali. I guess I’ll have that has Pinole for the next day’s breakfast. 🙂
Have you made Ugali with Sukuma Wiki? How do you make it and what do you think of this recipe?
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