Curried sweet potato and pea soup (Uganda)

Uganda is a landlocked country in East Africa, unfortunately mostly known for negative things like the past dictator Idi Amin, recent not-so-fair elections, and the current ban on homosexuality, with even plans to introduce death penalty for it. Even now gays are shunned in the media and often killed. Despite these atrocities, Uganda has been successful in one thing: significantly reducing the HIV infection rates, though some people question this (average life expectancy is still fairly low at about 50 years). Uganda is ethnically very diverse with no single group or language clearly dominating. It contains many large lakes, including a part of the huge Lake Victoria.

The Ugandan cuisine has drawn influences from many sources, including European, Arabic and Asian countries. Food may be mild or richly spiced. The staple starch is usually a maize porridge called ugali (which can also be made from millet), sometimes matoke, mashed green banana. Cassava, yam and sweet potato are also popular, while the more affluent also eat potatoes and rice. Most meals feature some sort of meat or fish, sometimes beans. There are also many vegetable dishes, containing e.g. cabbage, eggplant, mushrooms, bamboo shoots, and various leafy greens from kale to amaranth greens. Sesame and peanuts are used a lot. Fruits can be included in both main dishes and desserts.

I don’t know how authentic this recipe is, since it uses garam masala, an Indian spice blend (though Ugandan cuisine is said to have Indian influences), but it sounded interesting. Curried sweet potato is nothing new, nor is curried pea soup, but curried pureed pea soup with sweet potato is something different. It may not look particularly appealing, but it is tasty.

Curried sweet potato and pea soup

Ugandan sweet potato and pea soup

400 g/0.9 lbs finely-chopped onion (about three medium-sized onions)
2 tsp garlic, minced
oil for frying
1 tsp freshly-grated ginger
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tbsp garam masala
2 ripe tomatoes, chopped
1 sweet potato, diced
9 dl/3.8 cups water (or vegetable stock)
600 g/1.3 lbs fresh green peas

Fry the onion and garlic in a little oil for about five minutes, then add the ginger, salt, cayenne and garam masala. Fry for a few more minutes, then add the tomatoes, sweet potato and water/stock. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the green peas and simmer for 10 minutes more. Remove from the heat, add more water if needed and puree. If needed, heat through again. Serve hot. Makes 4-6 servings.

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