Nassozi Kezia got her love of local cuisine at a young age from her mother. Born in 1961 in Katente Village in Mukono district, she now works in catering, trying out different local dishes prepared in unusual ways which are much appreciated at special occasions and other ceremonies.
After being involved in the Slow Food network since 2008, in 2014 she was invited to Terra Madre in Italy to represent Uganda at the Terra Madre Kitchen, where she had a chance to showcase her natural style of cooking. She doesn’t use processed ingredients or too much oil, focusing instead on typical local produce like mushrooms and black nightshade. She’s now a member of the Slow Food Cooks’ Alliance in Uganda, which brings together responsible chefs and cooks from the country’s different districts who care about their environment, use healthier and more diverse ingredients, have an interest in sustainable agriculture and are working to make restaurant compounds greener.
As well as being one of Mukono’s most inspirational cooks, Kezia has also established a Slow Food garden (Dembe Family Garden) from which she sources some of the ingredients used in her kitchen. Kezia does not run a specific restaurant but operates an offsite food business called Dembe Catering Service. She employs 25 young men and women, whom she also trains in cooking and management, encouraging them to eventually start their businesses to help meet the growing demand for good local food from a wide range of clients.
One day she hopes to settle down and run a purely African food restaurant in Kisoga with a special emphasis on the diversity of Ugandan cuisine, serving healthy food and reflecting a respect for people’s cultures, beliefs and traditions.
While participating last month in the Karibu/Kilifair 2019 in Tanzania with the East African Slow Food delegation, Nassozi prepared matooke n’oluwombo, a traditional dish of mushrooms luwombo cooked with oysternut paste and served with mashed steamed bananas from Black Nakitembe , one of the many banana varieties grown in Uganda.
This dish of mashed steamed green bananas served with mushrooms luwombo cooked with oysternut paste takes the traditional cooking method of steaming in banana leaves and applies it to an innovative mix of ingredients.
- 3 kg green bananas (not plantains)
- young banana leaves
- 500 g oysternut paste (or groundnuts, or peanuts paste)
- 250 g mushrooms, sliced
- 1 onion, sliced
- 3 tomatoes, sliced
- 2 green peppers, sliced
- curry powder
Peel the green banana fingers and wrap them in the banana leaves. Put the wrapped banana fingers in a cooking pan with some water in the bottom, suspending them on banana leaf midribs to avoid contact with the water. Prepare the mushrooms luwombo by thinning the oysternut paste with a small amount of water, then mixing it with the mushrooms, onion, tomatoes and peppers and curry powder and salt to taste. Soften the banana leaves by passing over a flame or in the oven, then divide the luwombo mixture between three leaves, wrapping into small parcels. Place the mpombo (the plural of luwombo) in the same pan as the bananas, cover with more banana leaves and steam for about 1 1/2 hours. Unwrap the banana fingers and mash before serving with the mpombo.