Sunday, September 6, 2009

To Market

On Saturday, we decided to cook dinner ourselves, and give Mohammed (who is currently suffering through Ramadan, starving himself until sunset and going to Mosque several times a day) a break.

Ugandan food is nice, but very repetitive. Ugandans are accustomed to eating the same thing for every meal (some combination of rice, beans, matooke, posho, groundnut sauce, and potatoes (which are called "Irish") and sometimes chicken or beef), but we Americans are not. I especially like groundnut sauce, but I have been eating a varied diet for 30 years; it's hard to make the psychological switch.
So it's nice sometimes to eat out (we can get Indian food or chips/fish (fried whole fish or fillet with french fries) at a couple of the restaurants, like The Rock Hotel and TLT).
Even then, we don't get many vegetables. It's weird, because tons of vegetables would grow here, but the range of vegetables actually grown are small. You can find a lot of bananas, oranges, tomatoes, onions and Irish. Several vendors usually have avocados, eggplant and cabbage. Pineapples are available, but few and sometimes not ripe. If you look hard, you might find 1 or 2 vendors in the entire market selling string beans or okra. But more importantly Ugandan food doesn't seem to use most of the vegetables.

So we decided to take advantage of the fresh vegetables available to make a pasta sauce. To buy the vegetables, you go into the market in town. The market is a sprawling area of different wares, separated into sections. There are multiple entrances, which are small doorways in between storefronts in town. The sections include produce, hardware, rubber (where they make flip-flops out of old tires), second-hand clothes, luggage, and miscellaneous stuff (which includes anything made out of plastic, mirrors, wallets, cards, keychains, etc.).
The produce area is dark because it has a tin roof covering, which keeps it cool, unlike the other areas. The stands are just flat wooden boards suspended between wooden posts with mountains of vegetables. Most vendors have a variety of produce, but not always the same amounts, and no one has everything. One woman specializes in bananas, and she always has the sweetest ones.

Prices usually run like this:
Bananas (1 bunch) - USh 2000 ($1)
Avocado (1) - USh 500 (25 cents)
Tomatoes (4) - USh 300-500 (15-25 cents)
Irish (1 kilo) - USh 2000 ($1)
String beans (1 kilo) - USh 3000 ($1.50)
Okra (1 kilo) - USh 4000 ($2)
Pineapple (1) - USh 3000-4000 ($1.50-2)

We had decided to make a sauce from tomatoes and eggplant, and then I got all excited when I found okra and string beans, so we bought a half kilo of each.

At home, we soaked the vegetables in water with a little bleach.

We made the sauce out of tomatoes, eggplant and okra. We threw in some salt, balsamic vinegar and a "Portuguese" seasoning we had bought. We thought about putting red wine in the sauce, but Mohammed is Muslim, and some of the Ugandans in the house don't drink at all, and we wanted everyone to be able to eat.
We sauteed the green beans with garlic.

Everything was delicious. Mohammed loved it too, even taking seconds.


Hope said...

Great story. I love visiting markets.

sarah jo said...

Looks like a fantastic meal. You'll have to cook for me one day, so I can see it with my own eyes. And thanks for the great veggie market and price descriptions.