These age old juices were made before anyone ever conceived the idea that Uganda could ever be a country and they have remained a culinary pleasure for Ugandans through the ages with preparation techniques that have remained the same for centuries. These drinks used to be served in calabashes but with the advent of time, they are served in modern glasses and ceramic cups. On your visit, try these drinks to experience the history and taste of Uganda.
This juice is over 500 years old to the people in the Central Region of Uganda. In the past it was usually taken by the wealthy or at community gatherings, now it is made in many households mostly among the Baganda and Banyoro tribes. It’s made simply by peeling ripe bananas and putting them in plastic barrels filled with water. The barrel contents are then pressed (mashed) usually with feet (like ancient Greeks/ Italians mashed grapes with their feet). After that, the banana mash is transferred to large pots and boiled for several hours, forming a base of juice and pulp. The boiled banana mash is strained and if needed sugar is added to the leftover juice and boiled again. The boiled juice is then left to cool and ready for consumption
This juice was introduced to Buganda by the Asians and Arabs and its basically made by first peeling the cane stems, crushing them in a mill to separate the cane fibers from the juice. After this, the juice is drained into a pot and boiled to kill all the bacteria for at least 1 hour, then left to cool. After it has cooled, the sugar cane juice is then ready for consumption.
Omunanansi is a local juice made from pineapple peels majorly. When making this juice, a pineapple is peeled and cut into diced pieces, the peels are then crushed while adding the flesh of the pineapple in order to increase the juice that is born from the pineapple. After the pineapple is crushed, the mixture is sieved to remove the fibers from the juice. Makers sometimes add ginger and apples for flavour. After the juice has been drained, it is boiled to kill any bacteria for at least 1 hour and then left to cool thereafter. Its then ready to drink.
This drink is signature drink for people from western Uganda but is slowly growing onto the people in the eastern and central parts of the country as well. Its prepared simply by mixing hot water with sorghum flour. After mixing the water and flour for about 15 minutes over high heat, a fermented portion of the sorghum grain is added. The grain is fermented by soaking in water for three to five days, then drying and crushing it to form a thick, paste-like substance. The liquid mixture of all three ingredients is then chilled in the fridge or freezer and viola, its ready for drinking.
This traditional Buganda alcoholic drink is another version of the banana alcoholic drinks. It’s made by peeling ripe bananas and putting them in barrels filled with water. The barrel contents are then pressed (mashed) and banana mash transferred to large pots and boiled for several hours, forming a base of juice and pulp. The boiled banana mash is strained and sugar added to the leftover juice and boiled again. The boiled juice is left to cool. Wine yeast is added to the cooled, sweetened banana juice and placed in plastic fermentation tanks for 15 to 20 days, depending on product. The fermented liquid is diluted with sterilized water and its ready for consumption
Mwenge Bigere is a traditional Buganda Kingdom alcoholic beverage made from fermentation of mashed bananas. Sorghum, millet or maize flour are added as a source of wild yeast. A similar product is made in western Uganda and is called names like kasiksi, nokrars, rwabitoke, urwedensiya, urwarimu and milinda kaki.
This banana beer is made from ripe (but not over-ripe) East African Highland bananas called mbidde. To accelerate the ripening of bananas, a hole is dug in the ground, lined with dried banana leaves which are then set on fire. Fresh banana leaves are laid on top of them, and then the unripe bananas. These are then covered by more fresh banana leaves and pseudo stems. After four to six days, the bananas are ripe enough. This method only works in the dry season. During the rainy season, bananas are ripened by putting them on a hurdle near a cooking fire. Once ripened, the bananas are peeled. If they cannot be peeled by hand, they are not ripe enough. After peeling, the bananas are kneaded until soft. The juice is then filtered to get clear banana juice, which is then diluted with water. Sorghum is ground and lightly roasted and then added to the juice. This mixture is left to ferment for 24 hours and then filtered. After filtering, the beer is packaged in glass or plastic bottles. In commercial production, the beer may first be pasteurized before packaging to stop fermentation and extend shelf life.
This banana beer was truly a community drink and brought entire villages together when it was brewed. The drink is also sometimes consumed during traditional rituals or ceremonies and is also offered as offerings to traditional gods as it was considered so tasty the gods must enjoy it too.
This drink is called different names across regions but it’s essentially the same. This beverage is believed to be born in Buganda Kingdom over 400 years ago, however similar a drink exists in the Northern Region called Ajon as well as in the Western region called Omuramba. In Buganda in central region, they use maize or millet. In the North, they use a combination of millet and sorghum, while the people in the west use strictly millet. The drink is made by soaking millet/ maize/ sorghum kernels in warm water until they sprout, with the goal of increasing the content of maltose in the grain. The millet/ maize/ sorghum is then dried out to arrest the germination process. The malted grain is then crushed and mixed with water. This mixture is commonly known as wort in Northern Region. The wort is later boiled in order to remove any potential bacterial threat. Once the boiling process is complete and the wort cools down yeast is added. The mixture is then allowed to ferment. The entire process takes five days. After this the drink is ready for consumption. Other alcohols like spirits are sometimes are added it increase the alcohol content in the beverage. This alcohol is usually shared by communities. People sit around the brewed pot with very long straws dipped into the pot and they enjoy this drink together as a community
Tonto is a traditional brew produced from juice obtained from special varieties of bananas. The common local banana varieties used in making tonto are kisubi, ndizi, musa, kivuru, kabula and mbidde. Another common name used for the brew in central Uganda is mwenge bigere. It is mostly consumed in central and western Uganda, where banana growing is a major agricultural activity, and in urban areas all around the country at social gatherings and in bars. The production of tonto is as follows: Green bananas are ripened for 3–5 days in a covered, previously warmed pit, lined with banana leaves to ensure uniform temperature. The juice is extracted from the ripe banana by squeezing, by a group of men using their feet after mixing with spear grass. The juice is then filtered through grass held in a calabash funnel and diluted with water in known ratios. Roasted and ground sorghum is added to the diluted banana juice in a canoe-shaped wood container. The fermentation broth is then covered with banana leaves and split banana stems in a warmed pit and incubated for 2–4 days. The alcohol content in tonto ranges from 6–11% v/v and is consumed from small gourds using straws.
Kweete is made from equal parts of maize flour and germinated millet in many parts of Uganda in the same process as that of malwa. It however has a higher concentration of alcohol. Kidongo beer is made from the maize and millet that have already been used for making kweete. Water and brown sugar are added to the mixture and fermented overnight. Since kidongo is prepared from residual substrates of kweete, it is not a popular drink. Most of the traditional alcoholic beverages can be distilled to yield a more concentrated and relatively pure beverage called waragi. Kweete is consumed as a spirit, mostly in rural or local bars
Enturire is a sweet and sour alcoholic sorghum‐ and honey‐based beverage with its origins in south western Uganda (Mukisa et al., 2010). It belongs to a group of naturally fermented sorghum and or millet beverages collectively known as obushera. Enturire is produced by fermenting a sorghum malt slurry for about 3 days to yield a sour beverage called obutoko. Honey is then added to obutoko and this is fermented for a further 2–4 days to produce enturire. This drink was used for community celebrations like weddings, successful hunts, elders meetings and the like usually served in calabashes. It`s a must try when you visit Uganda