Ugali, The “Bread” Of Africa

Have you ever made ugali? It’s a firm, corn-flour-based “bread” similar to polenta. I’ve tried making it in the past but I used grits or cornmeal which didn’t work well. You really need a corn flour. I don’t know why I didn’t think to do this before but I re-ground some cornmeal I had and tried it again. Voila!

Here’s how to make it. For a fanatic cook, this video is mesmerizing:

I was motivated to try it again after reading this Guardian article: Why Is The Staple Food Of Sub-Saharan Africa Ignored By The Rest Of The World?. No, actually, it wasn’t the article, it was their photo. That looks like the ultimate cornbread.

The article links the site, Congo Cookbook, which gives even more instructions, as well as some traditional perspective.

The cornmeal I’m using is made from whole corn; it includes the bran and germ. The grits and other corn products I used before were more processed; the bran and germ had been removed. Maybe this is why it tastes better this time around.

I’m doing this for the taste. But some other benefits:

  • Corn that has been heated and allowed to set is an excellent source of resistant starch.
  • It’s great for gluten-free diets.

I’ve covered studies and written about resistant starch for 10 years. Three things it’s known to lower risk of: colon cancer, diabetes, and blood pressure.


New Study: Africans’ Starch-Rich, Low-Fat Diet Protects From Colon Cancer
Native Africans Had Low Blood Pressure, Probably Due To Low Sodium, High Potassium Diet
Some Carbohydrates Lower Blood Glucose At Subsequent Meals – The Second Meal Effect

8 thoughts on “Ugali, The “Bread” Of Africa

  1. Marj

    This is amazing to see. I’m going to try it either with corn meal I have or the corn flour he is using (which I’ve seen at the grocery). I like the simplicity of it and since I’m on a gluten-free diet and do love corn bread without all the additional ingredients usually called for in regular recipes. Can’t wait to see what it’s like!


  2. Bix Post author

    The product I get is the consistency of thick oatmeal. I eat it with a spoon. Some salt, no sugar. I really like it. I get the feeling the ugali in the photo is leftover and reheated in a dry cast iron skillet. That’s what it looks like to me. Maybe not. I like the crust on it.

    I’ve tried adding the flour to boiling water but it does get lumpy and you have to stir stir stir. So I tried adding cold water to the flour and bringing that up to a simmer. No lumps but you still have to stir a lot to prevent it from sticking to the bottom as it heats.

    These are the things I live for. I don’t so much like making fussy dishes with a lot of ingredients, not anymore. Now I like seeing what I can do with just one or two ingredients. It’s fun.


    1. Marj

      Yes, goodbye to those fussy recipes with many steps and way too many ingredients. Simple is good! Thank you for the tips for making Ugali, I’ll try it this weekend (hopefully) and will let you know how it goes. I’m a year-round soup lover so think they will be great together.


  3. Marj

    I’ll try the corn flour added to oatmeal as I do love the flavor of cornmeal (or flour). Love polenta too as a base for other things. One thing I tried recently is adding amaranth to oatmeal which adds considerable nutrition (same brand as the one you linked to for the cornmeal). Didn’t think about it being Easter weekend to try the ugali, will try it later on.


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