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Ugali – Kenyan cornmeal

  • Author: Sandra Mukidza
  • Yield: 4 as a side 1x


Simple and satisfying, this cornmeal porridge from Kenya, called Ugali, is the perfect accompaniment to soups, stews, and savory curries, especially our recipe for Kenyan Beef Curry.


Units Scale
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 1/2 cups white cornmeal (white is traditional, but yellow works fine)


  1. Bring the water to a boil in a medium saucepan.
  2. Reduce the heat to low, and stirring constantly with a whisk, slowly add the cornmeal to the boiling water. The ugali will begin to thicken quite quickly.
  3. Continue cooking on low heat, stirring every minute or so with a sturdy wooden spoon, until the ugali begins to pull away from the sides of the pan and hold together, and takes on the aroma of roasted corn. Turn it out immediately onto a serving plate. If you would like, using a spoon or spatula, quickly shape it into a thick disk or round.
  4. The ugali will continue to firm as it cools, and will be thick enough to cut with a knife (similar to firm polenta).

Recommended Equipment and Goodies


Ugali is a cornmeal porridge similiar to polenta.

The recipe does not call for any salt, but if you find your tastebuds need a bit more saltiness, you could serve it with some salted butter or add a big pinch of salt to the water at the beginning.

You will want to use a sturdy wooden spoon for cooking the ugali. Expect to get a workout in the process, as the dough becomes quite stiff.

You’ll know the ugali is cooked when it starts to pull away from the sides of the pan and begins to take on the aroma of roasted corn.

Wondering what to serve with Ugali? Give our recipes for Sukuma Wiki (a flavorful combo of cooked greens, onions, and cream) and Kenyan Beef Curry (a savory stew) a try!

If you are looking for more African recipes, South African Bobotie is a favorite around here!

  • Category: Side
  • Cuisine: Kenyan
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