Luwombo has been a royal dish since the year 1887 and it is commonly prepared for exceptional events for instance, the introduction ceremonies where the groom visits the brides home to meet her parents. However, one can even prepare it at home.
Well known across central Uganda, this cooking technique takes in both red and white meats, vegetables and pulses i.e. groundnuts as well as fungi like mushrooms.
The time and skills involved in making this dish makes it extra special as one needs to tie up the ingredients in a scorched banana leaf and steam it over Matooke or any other foods in banana leaves.
How to prepare the Luwombo leaf
The banana leaf used for Luwombo must be fresh, young and without a tear. Clean the leaf with a clean, damp cloth and stage it on a clean surface in the sun for about 25 minutes or more, so that it becomes limp. Next, carefully, smoke the leaf over dried banana leaves without allowing the leaf to dry out. Finally, remove the midrib being careful not to tear the leaf so that it can easily be folded. Prepare two leaves in case one tears.
Ingredients per portion
¼ chicken or meat /sauce of your choice
1 medium-size carrot, sliced
2 large, ripe tomatoes, shinned
1 green pepper, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
1 tablespoon of local breed ghee
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon of homemade tomato paste
In a saucepan, brown the onions and garlic in Ghee. Add the green pepper and carrot and cook stirring for 10 minutes.
Chop tomatoes roughly and mix with tomato paste and salt and simmer until tomatoes are cooked.
Add a little water to make a medium-thick sauce. Remove from heat.
Place prepared Luwombo leaf on a soup plate, making sure the centre of the leaf is in the middle of the plate. Put chicken in the centre of the leaf and carefully pour the sauce over it, keeping sauce as close around the chicken as possible.
Cover the chicken with a small, clean piece of banana leaf. Carefully gather the top and sides of the Luwombo leaf and tie them securely together with a piece of banana fibre, well above the mixture. Neatly trim off the ends of the leaf above the knot with a sharp knife or pair of scissors.
Place Luwombo carefully, over food to be steamed. Cover well with banana leaves and a large saucepan and steam steadily for 3 hours or more.
To serve: Put tied Luwombo in a small basket or soup plate, untie, remove leaf covering sauce and neatly fold back leaf starting with the ends.
Serve with greens, steamed Matooke and/or other staples and fresh orange, mango or passion fruit juice.
Recipe from slowfoodsuganda.org