As more people look for lighter, and less fatty, meals steamed and boiled foods are becoming more popular. The traditional Ugandan dish, Luwombo, refers to different foods steamed in banana leaves. It is easy to make, nutritious and perfect for lunch or dinner.
The Luwombo is a dish that will be found at most traditional Buganda ceremonies like a traditional wedding, (Kwajula). When it comes to Luwombo, the variations can practically limitless and frequently includes foods like chicken, meat, dried fish in groundnut sauce and anything else you would like to try. All of the ingredients are simply combined and allowed to marinate in the banana leaves as they bake.
This dish can be cooked either in a large casserole dish in a modern oven or, traditionally, in a saucepan on a charcoal stove. Either way, the magic comes from the banana leaves so their availability is the most important part of your dish.
Below is a Chicken Luwombo recipe for your gastronomical pleasure.
1 chicken cut up into serving pieces (The same amount can be measured as 1kg in meat, dried fish or pork)
2 large onions – chopped or diced
4 large red tomatoes – chopped or diced
8 large Irish potatoes – cut into large cubes
(any other vegetable you would like to add)
1 teaspoon chicken royco/chicken bouillon
One cup chicken stock/ water
Salt and pepper to taste
Banana leaves and string
Oil for frying
Optional: If you would like to try chicken in groundnut sauce, add three table spoons of groundnut powder or two tablespoons of peanut butter to your ingredients.
- Brown the chicken pieces in a hot pan with little oil then set aside.
- Heat a teaspoon of oil and cook the onions and tomatoes. Add the dry ingredients and the chicken stock/water and bring to the boil. (This is the point to add the groundnuts/peanut butter if desired)
- Soak the banana leaves in hot boiling water to soften, and then cut off the mid rib. Divide the leaves to make fairly large rectangles. (It is important not to pierce the leaves in any way so as to retain the sauce in the dish)
- In each leaf, place a piece of chicken and the Irish potatoes along with three tablespoons of the boiled sauce.
- Fold the leaf upward like a pocket and tie the ends with dried banana, or oven proof, string.
- Do the same for all remaining pieces of chicken and Irish potatoes.
- Place in a large casserole dish on top of a trivet, then add water to the dish and cover before placing in a hot oven. Cook slowly for at least an hour- keep checking to make sure the casserole dish has water.
- Alternatively, if using a charcoal stove- place the pockets of banana leaves into a large saucepan lined with a large banana leaf. Tie up the banana leaf into one large pocket. In the saucepan place cut banana stems at the bottom and add water. The cut stems act as a trivet. Cover completely with another saucepan and cook slowly for one hour.
- Serve the Luwombo hot with rice, matooke or any other side of your choice.
This dish yields 6-8 servings. The boiling and steaming ensures a reduction in oils as the chicken cooks in its own fat.