How to Cook Ugali (Sima)

Ugali (Sima)
In almost every Kenyan family, Ugali is a staple food. It is also referred to as Sima in the coastal regions. It is a simple dish prepared by cooking two ingredients; water and maize/corn flour. Various communities in Kenya have their own local name for the dish.

Ugali is also common in a number of other African countries like Tanzania, Uganda and Southern African countries each with its distinct name.

Ugali/Sima can be served with various vegetables like collards/kales, spinach, fish curry meat dishes, and stews. Some of these vegetable dishes are found on this blog, so do check them out. Ugali provides the body with carbohydrates because the main food ingredient is maize or corn. Some people opt to add salt while cooking although it is not necessary. You have the option of cooking with or without the salt according to your taste and liking.

Ugali takes a relatively short time to cook. The following is the procedure.

Ingredients: Serves two

⏩4 cups of water
⏩2 cups of maize flour/cornmeal


➲Pour water into a heavy-bottomed saucepan and bring to a boil
➲ Add a handful of the maize flour/cornmeal to the boiling water.
➲Using a flat wooden spoon, (see in the picture above) stir the mixture to form a porridge-like consistency.
➲Continue adding the maize flour a little at a time while pressing to the sides of the saucepan to remove any lumps.
➲If there are no more lumps stop stirring and let it cook for about ten minutes.
➲At this point, the mixture has become firm. Stir with the wooden spoon again and let it cook for a further three to five minutes.
➲Form the mixture into a round shape by bringing together the dough from the sides of the saucepan into the mixture. Transfer to a flat surface by turning the saucepan over on top of the surface.
➲If need be, the ugali can be cut into smaller chunks.

You should allow the ugali to cool down for about two minutes before you start eating because it is usually pretty hot.

Most Kenyans eat using their hands by pinching a handful amount and using it to scoop vegetables. If the ugali is being eaten with a stew-like Omena, beans or vegetable soup, the ugali can be eaten using a spoon.


  • MAIZE IS RICH IN CARBOHYDRATES. Maize is highly rich in carbohydrates. Many people prefer maize to other energy foods to supply them with energy. Being a starchy food, it releases energy slowly in the bloodstream ensuring that you stay energized the whole day. Fortified maize meal is rich in minerals and vitamins. Porridge made from maize is also sweet-it is fed to young children and can be a good substitute for milk.
  • RICH IN IRON. Maize meal is a rich source of iron. The non-sifted maize is particularly nutritious because the germ has not been removed. It is highly nutritious and beneficial to the body. It is also rich in protein. The endosperm is the energy storehouse.
  • IT IS A SOURCE OF CORN OIL THAT HAS GOOD ANTIOXIDANT PROPERTIES. Corn oil is a monounsaturated oil that is beneficial to the body. The oil is a good antioxidant and does not solidify at room temperatures, hence it does not have cholesterol found in animal fats. Corn flakes are made from corn [maize] and are highly nutritious and a good source of energy and vitamins.
  • NUTRITIOUS AND HIGHLY APPETIZING. Maize flour is used to make nutritious bread which is highly palatable and is easily broken down in the body. When taken in intervals, bread helps clean the colon and the dextrose produced is commonly used for medicinal purposes.
  • PREVENTS CONSTIPATION. Popcorn is a wholesome staple food made by heating small grain. It is easily digested by the body; in addition, it is practically starch free and not fattening. It is converted into carbohydrates which is easily absorbed in the body.
  • REDUCES STOMACH ACIDITY. Maize flour facilitates the removal of toxic food substance and also accelerates the passage of faces through the intestines
  • Maize flour is a decent source of protein and fiber.
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