Malewa Recipe

Bordering Kenya and Uganda is Mt Elgon,a mountain that attracts tourists from all walks of life. But to Ugandans, the mountain is intricately linked to the Gishu community, and the culinary art felt here. And for 300 decades now, the mountain has been a great source of food from a unique plant that grows wildly and widely on its foothills.  

The Mt. Elgon’s bamboo is an amazing plant whose shoots are used to prepare Malewa delicacy. The fantastic dish is popularly enjoyed during traditional weddings and circumcision ceremonies.

[bctt tweet=” Bamboo shoots for Malewa dish are in Africa; originally from the Mt. Elgon in Uganda.“]

AfroGist Media

Before young Ugandan boys would engage in a week-long journey as part of their adult passage rites, their mothers would serve this amazing sauce to further goad their bravity.

What is Malewa?

Malewa is a traditional Ugandan dish which is prepared using bamboo shoots. The shoots are air-dried and smoked to give food a distinct flavor. It is then mixed with salt and groundnut sauce to make a tasty sauce which can be enjoyed with plantains, sweet potatoes or cassava.


[bctt tweet=”In Africa the specific location you obtain a plant from matters a great deal. For example, the bamboo shoots you obtain directly from the Mount Elgon may carry certain spiritual codes for healing or other rituals.”]

How Malewa Dish was Discovered

[bctt tweet=” According to the Bagishu community, the first man emerged from the caves of Mt. Elgon. It is believed that the mountain is home to traditional artifacts and Bagishu gods.”]

Bamboo shoots, file:wikicommons/Obsidian Soul

Another legend has it that Malewa dish was discovered during the Mt. Elgon clashes in the 16th and 17th centuries.  The migrants from South Africa sought refuge in the caves of the mountain. Life was very hard and they often went hungry all day. Their desperate need for food and survival led to the discovery of bamboo shoots.

First they realized that they could smoke the shoots, and then they began to enjoy them roasted. As time went by, the community realized that the sprouts could also be prepared along with groundnut sauce to enhance its flavor. The dish later spread massively to the neighboring towns, including the Luo tribe.

Besides being a great dish in the Eastern part of Uganda, Malewa dish is known to offer whooper health benefits. You will be baffled to know how incorporating this simple dish to your diet can help prevent some health issues and complications. Below is a lowdown of some of the health benefits you will enjoy. Take a look!

Some Health Benefits in Malewa Dish

  • Bamboo shoots have anti-cancer properties
  • Rich in phenolic acid which protects against heart complications
  • High in dietary fiber which helps boost digestion and aid in weight loss
  • When crushed and taken as juice, bamboo shoots can cure ulcers and stomach complications.

[bctt tweet=” Bamboo shoots have anti-cancer properties, rich in phenolic acid which protects against heart complications. When juiced, they can cure ulcers and other stomach complications. High in dietary fiber, they boost digestion and aid in weight loss.”]

Malewa Recipe

  • 1 pound bamboo shoots
  • Pea nut sauce or paste
  • Rock salt


  • Dry your bamboo shoots over the fire for three days
  • Soak them overnight to make the outer layer soft. Peel off the outer layers and boil for 30 minutes over medium heat
  • Drain all the water and cut off the hard joints of the bamboo leaving behind the soft middle part
  • Reduce the soft part into small pieces. Wash the pieces thoroughly until clean water comes off
  • In a cooking pot, add water and Magadi or rock salt until it dissolves. Add your pieces inside and boil them for 30 minutes
  • Pour groundnut sauce over the mixture. Simmer it for 20 minutes then turn the heat off
  • Serve with cassavas, sweet potatoes, or plantains

Note: Bamboo shoots may contain some harmful elements although in small quantities. Treating and/or boiling the tender part should be not be skipped. It’s highly important to carry out the recommended prep time to help degrade the toxicity of any harmful elements.

Though the preparation requires some patience, it’s beyond doubt that adding Malewa delicacy into your diet will offer you amazing benefits.

If you like Malewa Recipe, and Health Benefits | Ugandan Cuisine, you may also like the following:

SOURCEAfrogist Media
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