Luwombo, a traditional Ugandan dish, has long been prepared at home for special occasions. Today, Ugandans are turning to restaurants to avoid the hours-long preparation, but the dish is as popular as ever.
Luwombo is cooked within a banana leaf, is a party favorite. Preparing the dish is a detailed process, which requires cooking a sauce using a variety of ingredients and then carefully wrapping the mixture in a banana leaf pouch.
Black lines run down a gold banana leaf. A string is tied around the top ends of the leaf, like a neck tie, creating a pouch. The unknown contents of the immaculately wrapped pouch – and the accompanying aroma – raise curiosity.
This is the traditional way of making luwombo, a unique mixture of sauce and a variety of ingredients enveloped in a banana leaf and then steamed over a fire for hours, also bear in mind that making luwombo calls for careful preparation.
While wrapping the ingredients in the banana leaves takes a great deal of preparation, cooking the dish is also time consuming, as a perfect luwombo takes about six hours to steam on a fire and despite the long hour of preparation, Luwombo is a meal one will enjoy knowing very well that there was no nutrients that escaped en route the cooking process.”
What you need:
- Large saucepan with a lid, or a second saucepan
- A stove, preferably a charcoal stove
- 14 banana leaves
- 1 medium onion chopped
- 1 ½ liters (6 ¼ cups) water
- ½ chicken, cut into bite-sized pieces
- 1 carrot,
- grated 1 tomato,
- grated 1 clove garlic,
- grated 1 piece ginger, grated
- ½ teaspoon seasoning
- ½ teaspoon salt
Yields six luwombo
DETAILED PROCESS OF MAKING A PERFECT CHICKEN LUWOMBO
1. If you are using a charcoal stove, begin the process of heating your coals so when you are ready to cook, the stove will be hot.
2. Pour 1 liter (4 ¼ cups) of water into the base of your cooking pot, then line the pot with four banana leaves. When it comes time to place the prepared luwombo in the pot, they will sit atop the leaves, ensuring that they do not come in direct contact with the hot water.
3. Set four more leaves aside until cooking time.
4. Spread the remaining six banana leaves out on a flat surface.
5. Mix the chicken pieces, ½ liter (2 cups) of water, Royco seasoning(any available seasoning will also do the magic), garlic, salt, carrot, ginger, tomato and onion together.
6. Separate the mixture into six individual portions and place those portions in the center of each banana leaf.
7. Take hold of the edges of a banana leaf and gather them together, creating a pouch to hold the mixture.
8. Tie string around the top of the pouch, leaving extra space in the pouch for the mixture to steam.
9. Repeat this process with the other five banana leaves and the remaining ingredients.
10. Place all of the wrapped leaves in your lined pot. Use the four leaves you set aside to line the top of the pot, then cover the pot with the lid, or other saucepan if the pot is too full for the lid.
11. Place the pot on top of the stove and steam for six hours.
12. After six hours, remove the luwombo and serve as is – unwrapping the dish is a part of the dining experience!
Recipe note: Fish, mushrooms or nuts can be substituted for the chicken. If you decide to cook a variety of luwombo, place different colored strings around each wrapped leaf so you can identify which kind it is.