Sunday Cuisine: Toasting to Uganda at 59

The celebration featured various foods. Photos/Promise Twinamukye.

What you need to know:

Review. Last week, Uganda celebrated 59 years as an independent nation. Mariot Skyz Kampala celebrated the day in the best way possible; with food, writes A. Kadumukasa Kironde II.

We all know that October 9, is Uganda’s independence day and for some of us who were fortunate to have been born in the 40’s, we can remember with much nostalgia the dining scene of pre independence Uganda. Owing to my father being a Cabinet minister in the then British government in the mid 50’s, we were regarded as middle class Ugandans, a dubious distinction but not of my choosing nevertheless. 
Interestingly, the population of the country at that time was a modest 7.2 million and I would hazard a guess that the Asians including Goans comprised no more than 30,000, while the British and Europeans were in the range of 10,000,000 in number. 

The Asians were largely scattered all over the country and relegated to running general merchandise shops and it was a necessary corollary that with the coming of the Asians traders they would introduce simple bites such as samosas and mandazi to Uganda. Dining out for the burgeoning Ugandan middle class was Uganda Hotels. In Entebbe, it was Lake Victoria hotel while Kampala had the Speke Hotel and the Grand Imperial Hotel.  When it came to formal dining out, the choices were relatively few with Uganda Hotel taking up the lion’s share having a footprint in every major city in the country. 

The difference
Today, the story is completely different with all major hotels having more than one serious dining establishment and as we discovered last Saturday on Independence day. Skyz Kampala Hotel regaled us with a bounty of Ugandan fare hard to come by in such diversity and expertise with the added bonus of a worthy and simple ambience by the poolside. What a fitting culinary tribute and a climax to 59 years of independence! For starters, while many purists may argue that soup is not eaten by Ugandans, this argument I find to be spurious. 

Molokoni soup for one is by any stretch of the imagination a common soup throughout and common fodder for those suffering from a hangover and hurting joints. The mushroom soup was subtle and light and perfect for an opener. While the molokoni broth was hearty and robust, nevertheless having a plethora of cow hoof bones with meat on them floating around in the soup that could not fit in the soup bowl was a non-starter and a challenge. To my way of thinking, the solution would be to have the pieces of molokoni (preferably frozen) cut by an electric meat bone cutter into two inch pieces which when cooked would comfortably fit into the soup bowls. 

The celebration
It is sine qua non that a buffet at such a top notch hotel would be both bountiful and tasty as would be expected. This was very much the case and one couldn’t have wished for more or better. The goat pilao rice had a distinct coastal flavor with the goat meat served in generous portions. Coconut rice is another favorite and was wonderfully done with just the right amount of coconut. The smoked boiled beef was tender and succulent and the chicken luwombo was the right choice of a range chicken.

 However, while I am the first to agree that there are more ways than one to skin a cat, and when it comes to pork (or any meat for that matter) muchomo, I am a rabid traditionalist and the artisan (fire meets meat) way is by far my preferred way; there is nothing to beat the primal pleasure of fire cooked foods. It would be a misnomer to say that we were served pork muchomo albeit the results were commendable; let’s call a spade a spade. 

All in all, the Sunday brunch is a laudable event and one that all the family will enjoy with the added benefit of the pool. The weather can be bad, but fortunately in the worst case scenario they have more space indoors to take care of this contingency. In winding up, whenever there is a band playing at these luncheons, the rule than the exception is to play and sing as loud as they can to the point where diners can never hear one another and are reduced to shouting to each other as though they are deaf. Lo and behold the band at the Protea by Marriott Skyz Kampala play their music discreetly in the background and what a world of difference it makes! Kudos.

Place: Protea Hotel by Marriot Skyz Kampala, Uganda, 1 Water Lane, Naguru  
Event: Saturday Independence day brunch 9th October 2021 
Rating: Not to be missed 
Location:  Tropicana poolside 
Fare: Traditional 
Menu:  STARTERS Clear dry mushroom soup, MAIN COURSE Tilapia dams (fried Tilapia), chicken luwombo, smoked boiled beef, pork muchomo, molokoni (cow hoof), 
VEGETABLES AND STARCHY FOOD: Coconut rice, Goat pilao, Deep fried gonja, Boiled Irish potatoes, Katogo chapatti filinda ground nut sauce with smoked fish, stuffed pumpkin in beef mince with vegetables steamed roots (yams, gonja,) nakati, bitter berries, dodo kalo and Eshabwe. 
Service: The staff is very enthusiastic and surprisingly well informed on the menu
Ambience: Semi alfresco by the poolside 
The damage: Shs 75’000 per cover
Sound level: First class
Smoke-Free Zone: Not allowed 
Wine List: A broad range of prices, grapes and styles, and apart from the house wine from South Africa and Europe.
Reservations: Recommended for groups and those wishing to sit in a particular area by the poolside 
Open: Every Sunday 
Wheelchair Access: Inaccessible 
Parking: Abundant and very secure
RATINGS: Not to be missed, worth a visit, OK/so so, don’t waste your time. 

These ratings are purely the reviewer’s personal reaction to food, ambience and service with price being factored into consideration. The menu listings and prices are subject to change without notice.