Peanuts, or groundnuts, have been mashed, cooked and combined in almost every imaginable way throughout history. They have formed the foundation of sauces, butters, and even served as meals by themselves. Peanuts originated in South America as early as 950 B.C. Peanut paste, or butter. is made from roasted peanuts and is an important dish in Uganda, especially in the North, and is known as odii.
Before the grinding machines were introduced in Uganda, odii was made by hand on a stone. Young women learned that to make a smooth paste first by pounding it in a mortar before it was ground between two stones; a larger one at the bottom and a smaller one to hold and work with.
In Uganda, odii is used in a variety of different dishes. It is eaten with cassava, yams, potatoes or bananas for breakfast and mixed in various sauces as part of the main meal. It can be mixed in meat, chicken and a variety of vegetable dishes flavouring bland dishes.
One such dish is Boo. Boo (pronounced boaw), is a dish originating in Northern Uganda. Boo is a vegetable and it is frequently prepared with peanut butter as follows:
- Buy the amount of boo leaves and okra to suit the number you are serving. For every portion of boo leaves add a quarter portion of okra (e.g. ¼ cup okra to 1 cup boo leaves) It can be found in all the local markets in and around the city and varies in price depending on the thickness of the stalks tied together for sale. The average price is 500 UGX.
- Chop both the boo leaves and okra into small bits and add to a pot of boiling water with a pinch of sea salt. Let boil for 10 minutes.
- Chop 2 tomatoes and add into the boiling boo until they are soft.
- Remove from heat and add salt to taste.
- Remove some of the boo sauce and add it to the odii until it makes a thick paste.
- Add this back into the boo mixture stirring until the odii is completely dissolved.
- Serve hot with either potatoes, rice, cassava, posho, millet bread and matooke
Alternatively, you can do 1 & 2 above then:
- Slice one onion and fry in a pan with a little oil until golden brown.
- Chop two tomatoes and cook with the onion until soft.
- Add Royco© and/or curry powder to taste.
- Combine with the boo sauce and stir.
- Add pepper and salt to taste.
- Serve hot.
Odii can be added to left over meat and chicken to make variations on standard dishes. Always mix the odii with hot water into a watery paste before adding into your desired sauce. The more it boils, the thicker it will become. Consistency of a sauce made with odii varies according to taste. You can make it as thick or as thin as you like by adding hot water. Remember to season well with salt and pepper as desired.
Go ahead and try making your food a delicacy by adding peanut paste. Jars of odii can be found at most supermarkets around town. They are priced from 2,500 to 20,000 UGX depending on the size of the jar.