If you like the flavors of sub-Saharan African cuisine, you will love this dish!
The method of cooking fish and meat together is widespread in Africa with cuisines that often blend sea and land animals. Their version of Surf & Turf!
Oluwombo or luwombo is a traditional Ugandan recipe. It is both a royal dish and a fairly common dish cooked especially during the holidays. It was originally created in 1887 by the personal chef of Kabaka Mwanga, an interesting king who ruled the kingdom of Buganda (Uganda region where the country got its name from) at the end of the nineteenth century. Kabaka Mwanga had 16 women and 10 children. African cuisine seems to be a powerful aphrodisiac!
Uganda is a country in East Africa. It was a British colony until 1962, when it became independent. Since its independence, the country has experienced political instability. We remember Idi Amin Dada, the emblematic figure of this country in the 70s. His dictatorial and bloody regime has claimed the lives of over 300,000 people from 1971 to 1979. His term was also marked by the famous Air France flight departing from Tel Aviv that was hijacked landed at Entebbe. The Entebbe raid (also known as Operation Thunderbolt) conducted by Israeli military forces led to the release of the hostages, despite the unfortunate death of three of them, in addition to the death of Colonel Jonathan Netanyahu, the eldest brother of the future Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Several films have portrayed the life of Idi Amin Dada, as well as the rescue operation that marked the ’70s including “Victory at Entebbe” starring illustrious actors like Anthony Hopkins, Burt Lancaster, Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Dreyfuss, but also “Raid on Entebbe” with Charles Bronson or the more recent “The Last King of Scotland” with the great Forest Whitaker in the role of Amin Dada.
But back to our luwombo. This dish can be prepared with beef, chicken, pork or goat, a very popular meat in Africa, but unfortunately not very easy to find in the United States.
The addition of smoked fish is optional but I think it that is what makes this dish so special. There are recipes that use smoked meat instead.
Cooking in banana leaf is actually what gives this dish that unique taste. When I made my tamales negros, I cooked the chicken for about an hour. If you use beef for your luwombo, you’ll need at least 2 hours to get a meat that will be tender enough.
Last night, I invited my friend Fred and his wife Rina (who helped me make the koba ravina) for dinner. On the menu, a Southwestern salad, oluwombo and pineapple flambéed in rum and Kahlua. Fred grew up in Gabon and is more or less accustomed to the flavors of Africa. He absolutely loved this Ugandan recipe that reminded him of his childhood.
Oluwombo or luwombo is a traditional dish of Uganda. It is both a royal dish and a fairly common dish cooked especially during the holidays.
- 2 lb beef , diced
- 1 cup unsalted peanuts , ground
- 2 onions , chopped
- 4 tomatoes , chopped (or 1 (14 oz) can of crushed tomatoes)
- 1 cube chicken bouillon
- 1 cup mushrooms , sliced
- 1 piece smoked fish , or smoked meat (optional)
- Banana leaves
- 6 plantains
- Sauté the meat in a lightly oiled pan until browned on all sides. Set aside.
- Heat a tablespoon of oil in a pan, then add the onions and cook for 2 minutes before adding the tomatoes, chicken bouillon cube, salt, pepper, peanuts, mushrooms and smoked fish (or smoked meat ). If necessary, add a little water to form a smooth sauce. Simmer for 8-10 minutes.
- Add meat and mix.
- Cut banana leaves to form 10-inch wide rectangles. Remove the mid rib.
- Place the banana leaves above of a fire for a few seconds to soften. Then rinse with water.
- Place a portion of the meat mixture in the center of a leaf.
- Fold the leaf on the sides, then fold the other two ends to form a small pouch.
- Tie with a string then repeat with the operation with the rest of the mixture.
- Place a rack in the bottom of a large pot and add water to the bottom. Place the pouches on top of the rack and cover.
- Add the plantains over in the pan. Bring to a boil and steam for at least two hours.
- Take plantains out of the pot and mash with a fork.
- Serve luwombo with mashed plantains.