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Oluwombo or Luwombo is a traditional dish from Uganda. It is both a classic dish of Royal dinners and a dish popular throughout Uganda, especially at holiday time. It is often said that oluwombo dates to 1887 when, during the reign of Kabaka Mwanga, the dish was introduced by his chief cook, Kawunta. The basic banana-leaf cooking method has been common across tropical Africa for centuries and is also much used wherever bananas or plantains are grown. (See: Liboké de Viande and Liboké de Poisson.) It can be made with Beef, Chicken, goat, Pork, or Mushrooms.
- cooking oil
- Beef, Chicken, goat, or Pork (any one or two or more in combination), cut into serving-sized pieces
- peanuts (roasted, shells and skins removed) or Peanut butter (natural, unsweetened), about a half-cup per serving (optional)
- Onion, chopped (half an Onion per serving)
- tomatoes, peeled if desired, chopped (one tomato per serving)
- tomato paste (one tablespoon per serving)
- one Chicken or Beef bouillon cube (optional)
- salt (to taste)
- black pepper (to taste)
- banana leaves (one per serving)
- Mushrooms, cleaned (optional)
- smoked or meat (optional)
- plantains (one per serving)
- In a hot, lightly-oiled skillet or on a hot outdoor grill, briefly cook meat until it is browned but not done. Remove from heat and set aside.
- If you are using peanuts:
Crush or grind the peanuts with a potato-masher, rolling pin or with a mortar and pestle.
- Heat a spoonful of oil in a saucepan. Add the Onion and cook for a minute. Then add the tomatoes, tomato paste, bouillon cube, salt, pepper (or other spices) and crushed peanuts or Peanut butter. If necessary, add water to make a smooth sauce. Cook briefly until it is heated completely.
- Briefly heat the banana leaves over the grill or in a hot oven. (Heating the banana leaves makes them more flexible.) Remove some of the fibers from the central rib of the each leaf—these will be used to tie the leaf-packets closed (or use kitchen string).
- Place a portion of meat and some of the tomato-Onion sauce (and Mushrooms and smoked meat or , if desired) in the center of a leaf. Fold the leaf in from the sides, drawing all the sides together, being careful not to break the leaf. Tie tightly closed at the top. Cut off any extra leaf above the tie. Repeat until all the leaves have been filled. Use any extra leaf to double wrap the packets.
- Place a wire rack (or similar) in the bottom of a large dutch oven or similar cooking pot. Add water to fill the pot up to the bottom of the rack. Place the banana-leaf packets on the rack. Cover and bring to a boil on the stove (or better yet) over the grill or an open fire. Steam the packets for an hour or longer. Add water to the cooking pot as necessary to prevent it from becoming dry.
- To serve: Remove the plantains from their packets and lightly mash with a fork. Top with the meat and sauce. This can be done before serving, at the table, or each diner can be provided with a both a plantain packet and a meat packet.
- plantains cooked in banana leaves (i.e., plantain leaves) are a popular staple dish in Uganda.
- Mushrooms and peanuts (without meat) can be cooked together oluwombo style.
- Oluwombo can also be made without pre-cooking the meat and sauce before they are wrapped. The steaming time should increased to well over two hours.