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Kwagala Project – Beans and Posho

Today I am sharing a post by someone I have never met but wish that I could stand beside. Kelsey, director of Kwagala Project out of Uganda, contacted me a few weeks ago asking if I could help spread the word about her work. What else could I say but yes? The people of Africa, so long in suffering at the hands of their own people and us as well, deserve all the help they can get. If I, a single person with only my website to offer, can help this project, than I will do anything in my power to do so.

Food brings us together in so many ways, but sharing the diverse ethnic foods of other countries is one of my biggest passions. I love to see what the rest of the world eats and I want to try all of it! Seeing the simple meals that these girls make for each other every single day made me smile. I can see them working together each evening to make this and serving it to each other and gathering to eat as a group. Standing in solidarity together as they continue to heal together.

Below is an introduction by Kelsey and the recipes for a typical meal at the Kwagala Project home base. Please take the time to visit the Kwagala website and to also visit them on Facebook and Twitter. Look for an upcoming post about Kwagala project on Bloggers Without Borders as well.

Kwagala Project was started in 2007 in response to  the issue of Human Trafficking. Our aim is to rescue and rehabilitate victims of sexual exploitation and child prostitution.

We have two programs in Uganda (Africa): holistic-care centers, and a drop-in center. In the holistic care center, girls live together in a home as a family with live-in mentors we call “aunties.” They attend school, receive counseling and therapy, and get the chance to be kids again. Our drop-in center consists of vocational training, income generating activities, counseling, and business skills & life skills training. Drop-in beneficiaries receive training for 8 months, and are then launched out to start their own businesses. Through our income generating activities, they are able to support themselves and their children while they are enrolled in the program.

The Kwagala Project girls are very proud of their culture and food. Many conversations revolve around different meals and seasonal fruits and vegetables.  The girls take pride in their recipes and love to cook for visitors. One of the staple meals in Uganda is posho (made from maize flour) and beans. This budget meal is what most of the country survives on. It’s fed to school children at lunch, families at dinner, and in many work places.

On this particular day, Scovia, who is 17 and lives in our holistic-care center in Gulu, Uganda was the chef. Scovia is a creative girl who loves to crochet, garden, cook, sing, and play with the neighborhood children. Her sweet heart and loving nature can be seen in the way she carefully prepares meals. This is her bean recipe. We find it very tasty and hope you enjoy.

Ugandan Beans

Yield: 5 servings
Prep Time:
Cooking Time:  

1 1/2 cups dried common beans (pictured..I honestly don’t know the American name for this bean. But my research tells me it’s a “common bean”)
1 large tomato
1 small bell pepper (or 1/2 small bell pepper)
1 small red onion
2 Tbsp salt
1/2 cup cooking oil
1 garlic clove
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp tumeric
1/4 tsp ginger

(Weird facts: In East Africa they this bizarre rock-like thing they call “Magadi” or soda ash. At first I thought this was just some weird traditional thing they used in cooking. But, after researching, it turns out that using it actually decreases cook time. No joke! Since the Western world can’t get this rock, we will tell them to soak the beans about 8 hours. The Ugandan’s actually don’t have to soak their beans because of Magadi.)

1. Sort beans and remove any rocks, bad beans, etc. Our girls put the beans in the basket pictured and toss them into the air to remove dust and dirt particles. They then pick through carefully to remove bad beans and rocks. Put beans in a pot of water to soak for 8 hours.
2. Strain beans and add clean water. The water should be about 1 inch above the beans. Put beans over fire for about 1 to 1.5 hours, or until soft. Water should be absorbed at this point.
3. When beans are almost done cooking, add 2 Tbsp salt (5 minutes before they’re done).
4. While cooking, dice tomato, bell pepper, and onion.
5. Remove beans from fire and put aside.
6. In a fresh pot, add oil for frying. Wait about 3-5 minutes for oil to heat up. Add onion, garlic, and bell pepper & stir until onions are translucent.
7. Then add tomato and seasonings. Add beans and cook for 5-10 minutes.
8. Serve

(Pictured is Fiona)

Posho is a cheap and simple food to make. It’s made from maize flour (aka corn flour).


Yield: 5 servings
Prep Time:
Cooking Time: 

4 cups maize flour
6 cups boiling water

1. Heat water to boiling in a pot. Slowly pour the maize flour into the boiling water and whisk to avoid forming lumps.
2. Stir continuously with a large wooden spoon and mash so that lumps don’t form. Keep adding flour until it is thicker than mashed potatoes. Cook for 3 -4 minutes while stirring continuously.
3. Serve immediately.

All Photos on this post are courtesy of Kelsey Morgan.

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