“Excuse me sir, could you show us how to make a respectable ugali?” A deep voice came from behind. Everyone went silent as eyes tried to trace the person. A man stood from the far end. A bald head and a very thick mustache, from his physique you would mistake him for Apollo (Rocky). His deep voice did not match his question and thus the bewilderment.
“Yes, Morpheus, what exactly do you mean by respectable?” asked the speaker.
Morpheus adjusted his voice and changed his position of stand. Like hip hop rapper from the 70’s he explained.
“Respectable, as in ugali that is soft but not too soft with a sweat almost partially burnt smell oozing from it. Yellowish-brown almost burnt sides on the edge and in between the neatly shaped meal. What I mean sir, is ugali that would keep a marriage steady even with love gone”
With that the crowd burst into an uncontrollable laughter. The women looked the fellow with shocking expressions and eyes which screamed ‘who hurt you poor guy?’ The speaker, a reputable chef could not control himself as well.
First time I cooked ugali was in shags. I had just finished my primary school national exam and decided to visit my favorite person in the world. I enjoyed time with my grandma. In some weird way I consider home to be wherever she is. So it was me, grandma and happiness, did I mention a lot of work?
One particular day in this moment, grandma had gone to the shamba to tend to her fields (she loves it) and I was left home alone with a boiling sufuria of water meant for ugali. When the water was ready, I ran out to call granny dear because I had not cooked ugali before. But in her cunning way she convinced me to start cooking, that she would join shortly to finish. I believed her.
Do you know how hard it is to cook on a three stoned jiko? Halfway through, I added the flour but it was too little and the ugly started spurting out like popcorn. Burns like candle wax only multiplied. So I added more flour but this time it was too much. While worrying about that, the fire went out and smoke had started filling the room.
So here I was, tears rolling out my eyes, sweating like a whale (do whales sweat? How would you know? Like, with them being in what and stuff… ) I wanted to give up, I was giving up. And just then, grandma came to the rescue. Boy was I relieved. The ugali was horrible, very horrible. It could break into pieces and flour would come out of it. It definitely wouldn’t keep a marriage anything. But grandma applauded me for being such a good cook…
So when Morpheus asked this delicate question, I too became attentive. I wanted to know how to cook good ugali.