Top 21 foods of the Lugbara
Are you feeling hungry like Oliver Twist? Just ‘Ask for More’, but not for Pepsi (Please forgive me, I love the cola too!) What I’m advertising is something older than Diet Pepsi. Tell the cook, “Please Sir, I want some more (Glorious Lugbara Food)!”
Okay, even males have culinary skills (they can prepare eggs) but what I’m trying to find out is whether you have tasted traditional Lugbara culinary: tasty, original and simple with the ancestral touch of masterful cookery. Isn’t Mum the Best Cook on Earth?
Food in Lugbara is called ‘Nyaka’ or ‘Enya’. You can find Recipes in Arua restaurants or traditional Kampala joints like those around Arua Park (Johnstone Street). Here is a description of some menus. Traditionally, eating is done using hands but with Colonialism and Trade came Spoons (plus other Cutlery). In the 21st Century, you can as well use Chopsticks if you wish…
1. Loperete (Ajira) – Osu ba njo (Beans with the skin removed [Kaiko is the Terego dialect for Beans], baba alenia Funyo/ Ala ci (mixed with Ground nut paste), azi ni Mundrokole (plus greens).
Oc(h)a oc(h)a/ Oc(h)akuc(h)a is a kind of sauce prepared with beans aand paste.
2. Anyoya (Alur for dry maize and beans. Sumptuous for breakfast with Pitch Black Tea) Angarawa or Angaraba [Terego dialect] (Skinless Beans, slightly fried or cooked, and mixed with G-nut paste, i.e. njo’ed and funyo’ed). The Kikuyu in Kenya call it “Githeri” and a story is told of one very traditional elder who was invited for a function and after examining the other dishes all round in the buffet, he was glad to find Githeri and filled his plate. You cannot blame him for his taste even if he went overboard. Osu/ Kaka Adiza – Anyoya not soft.
3. Kila Kila (Sauce) – Osu banjo ku (Beans with the skin on), Kaiko Burusu (Peas), Mundrokole ba (Greens added), kanikusi Funyo(or G-nut paste); Osu ni aa olungulungu [Beans not crushed]; Angunduru is a kind of sauce prepared from beans and sauce.
4. Iribi (Greens) like Osubi (Bean leaves that in Lugbara-Italian are called ‘Osubiano’, ask Radio Pacis’s Father Tonino),
Mundrokolo or Mundrokole (Pictured left), Agobi (Pumpkin leaves), Djiribi, Okaka bi, Creeping Alukutubi, Malakwang (popular greens), Biringanya (Eggplant), Nyanya (Tomatoes), Ntula (Luganda for green berries), Awu Bi, Banda Bi (Cassava leaves), Kili wiri, Pala Bi, Jambala (Beans and Greens without G-nut paste), Murukulu (Bamia dani funyo kudani [Okra with G-nut stew]), Alutukubi, Bamia, Jupa, Nakati, Atrebi-Okaka Bi, Orukwa (A certain kind of Dodo greens), Osu nyirikia bi [Leaves]
5. Drika (Mushrooms). Maru are big white mushrooms that grow near anthills…
6. Pandu or Banda Bi (Cassava leaves )… Delicious when mixed with dry fish (Ibi) or minced meat (Eza)
7.Lumboo, a tuber that grows long is now extinct. When it is skinned, it becomes white and very sweet. Very rare tuber, used to be eaten long time ago. Other food crops like sweet potatoes took over and so Lumboo was abandoned…
8. Obangulu (Lugbara Pizza): Onya (White Ants) from Otoko (Anthill) are trapped at Night after rain falls during the Ant Migration Season. A Lamp (Tala) or other Light Source like Galaka (Dry Grass) which is lit, is used to draw them to a hole dug near their anthill.
In Maracha, Palm Tree Leaves (Nde nde) are used to cover the Hole where the edible Ants have fallen. After collecting in a container, they are steamed and put to dry. Sieving of captured Insects is done to remove Wings (Biko) and taken to the Market. For the remaining ants at home, Stones (Oni) are picked out and Ants cooked with Salt (Ai) before being eaten straight away or dried in the Sun (Etu) for future consumption.
Obangulu (Lugbara Pizza) is made by pounding wingless Onya, adding salt and cooking in leaves (like from banana plants).
Alanda/ Amboroko (Lugbara Antcake): Made from small white ants and is like Obangulu. Trapping of ants is usually done during daytime (Morning or Evening). A flat grassless mass of soil, hard like an anthill, is called Amboroko. A hole is dug there, then mud mixed and dome placed on top of the hole. The wanted insects from underground gather in the raised mud while a song is sung, “Kuru, kuru, kuru!” plus Drum beaten. An opening is created in the mud to let the insects out and the drummer sings, “’Ba ki ilulua ilu, ma ilu ku!” [Translation: People are creating an opening, I’m not!”]. When these insects are scooped within the mud, they are pounded with wings still on till soft. Some people put them in leaves and boil, and then dry them until they harden. Otunyo (Yesterday’s white ants are pressed into an Otaku pot. When it ferments/smells after two days, it is pressed with a ladle. Then, leaves are put on it in the pot. It can be added to food like Agobi. It is not put in beans or meat.) Periodical during evenings in the white ant season…
8. Waarla (Mundrokole without beans).
9. Anya idi (Anyu si [millet porridge with simsim paste])
10. Milk (Lesu) and Potato Porridge (Maaku idi)
11. Osu olunguolungu (Osubi azini Dodo si [With Dodo greens]), Kebbege (Cabbage came later)
12. Ajira (Skinless Beans with(out) G-nut sauce). Jambala (Greens without beans nor Ala)
13. Mutere (Sweet Potatoes or Cassava cut into smaller pieces, then dried in the sun for a number of days and later boiled or prepared otherwise). Itesots call it “Amukeke”…
14. Ofuta (or Ofutaku) is an ingredient produced by burning dried bean pods, banana peelings, etc and mixing the ash with water before sieveing to produce a brown liquid used to cook greens like Osubi. It maintains their green chlorophyll colour. ‘Ai atipa’ is got from particular plants. Women will have the whole day collecting various salty leaves even from the valley. Then they make them wiver in the sun for some time before burning them while they are dry. Magadi is got from water like at Kibiro on the Northern shores of Lake Albert; it probably got its name from the salty Lake Magadi in Tanzania.
15. Mengu idi – Mango juice prepared by cooking the mango, then as it is cooling you squeeze the juice and drink with sugar…
16. Njarunjaru is greens and beans…
There are two main ways of preparing Greens: Boiling and Frying. The latter lusciously maintains the juicy taste in the leaves. Ask (my Lugbara – Kakwa cousin) Edwin, he will tell you that all you need to do is wash the greens, like Nakati – my favourite, in a small kitchen basin or saucepan, pour out the dirty water and fry the greens for a short time in oil that is flavoured with onions and green pepper (plus tomatoes if you wish), very sumptuous stuff. Do not add more water by the way, it may ruin the freshness! Also, add salt only after the greens have shrunk, that way you will be able to measure reasonably!
As for the first method, even if the sharp juicy taste is taken away by boiling, the Lugbara always find a mouthwatering way to sweeten their Green food. ‘Ofutaku’, ‘Magadi’ or ‘A’itipa’ can be added early to maintain the green colour of the leaves. Meanwhile, there are also sweeteners, for example Black Harmony, a popular LugbaRap en Riddim duo from Arua sing about Ala or Anyu (Groundnut Paste, also known as ‘Odii’ in Acholiland) in their song “Adiaa”. The singing voice tells his woman named “Adiaa” to prepare for him ‘Mutere’ (Sliced and sun-dried Cassava or Potatoes) plus a side dish of Greens (either Atra bi, Awu bi, Pala bi, Ago bi or Dodo) and sweeten it with a little Ala and Ai [Salt].
Lillian Kelle, whose family is originally from Vurra (Western Arua), is a proud Lugbara living in Las Vegas, Nevada (USA). Although America is a melting pot of different cultures, ‘LK’ feels she cannot prepare Lugbara food like it is done in Arua but she tries. She says, “You will be surprised what different foods you can find here. The Chinese especially eat a lot of the same things we do. The Mexicans also. I have found Cassava, Entula, Guavas, raw Groundnuts, Millet (Anya) and so many things.” Below are photos of some of those similar foods, i.e. Greens (Most likely Chinese Cabbage), Fried Plantains (A’bua), Fried Fish (Ibi), Chicken Feet en Cassava (Gbanda).
17. Animal Parts which are soft for instance liver and hump are given to Elders. They have reached a stage where they cannot eat hard things but they should be kept comfortable. Experienced and skilful youth weigh pieces of meat (Eza) with both hands until they are equal and start distributing during slaughter. Putuku (also called Mulokoni) is the leg of a Cow, also a celebrated delicacy.
18. Maracha Bread (Mukati) is one of the Most Amazing Foods in Lugbara Cookery. Made entirely from maize, it’s eaten during tea time which means at any time ’cause ”Anytime is Tea-time”. The amazing thing about it is that maize grains are ground in a mortar before being tied in a leaf like for a banana plant and boiled, something similar to ‘Luwombo’ (among the Baganda) but this time instead of chicken, pounded maize is boiled to form a block or oval shape. When ready, the mass is removed and enjoyed, with tea or coffee.
Ebe’de or Ibe’de is Tea without Sugar. The name was coined after the act of scooping tea from a saucepan or large container during a function, it could also mean “Self Service” since everyone was expected to scoop for themselves…
19. (Terego) Maize Milk : Young (raw) maize is pounded, juice squeezed out of it and boiled for drinking, not eaten whole like the Indians.
20. In Vurra – the Orchard of West Nile, Pumpkin (Ago) and Chicken (Au) is a special. You could add some Indian curry to spice it up.
21. After a meal, it is always advisable to take a little wine (alcohol) to speed up digestion plus keep your stomach in good condition. Kpete or Kwete is the name for Lugbara beer. Aku fi (yeast) is used to brew it. Just don’t over-drink…