#KlaRestaurantWeek: Protea Hotel
The Kampala Protea Hotel is part of a continent-wide chain of hotels from South Africa, to Nigeria, to Uganda, and a number of countries in between. As participants in this year’s Kampala Restaurant Week, they bring the concept of “local ingredients, international ideas” to life with a range of dishes we had the privilege of previewing for you.
Muchomo is a universal human phenomenon and a great appetiser. Since the stone ages people have been burning meat on a stick and loving it, so the Protea hotel gives us a taste of this fail-safe principle with their Jerk Beef Skewers.
“Jerk” refers to both a Jamaican style of cooking, wherein meat is marinated and the spice-mix with which it is marinated. At the Protea, light brown chunks of are placed on skewers, alternating with vivid green and yellow peppers. This is served with a side of gonja chips and a peanut sauce whose slight sweetness tames the spicy muchomo.
Alternatively, one may begin their meal with the Flash Fried Calamari with Teriyaki Tartar Sauce.
Calamari rings are coated in a spiced butter and then flash fried, which means: fried really quickly at a really high temperature. It’s lit. Tartar is a popular sauce for fish and seafood derived from mayonnaise, but this time is mixed in with Teriyaki sauce, a popular Japanese sauce, for a salty, cross-national twist.
Your next stop on this culinary trip around the world is South Africa if you decide to have the Bobotie for your main course.
Though a national dish may be a contentious issue in a country as diverse as South Africa, this complex combination of flavours and textures is at the very least an interesting metaphor for this diversity. Bobotie is basically a sweet and spicy mince of either lamb or beef (in this case, beef) baked with a topping of eggy butter and baked till the surface browns over. It is served with delicious creamy spinach, yellow rice and pumpkin fritters; pureed pumpkin made into a butter (with a touch of cinnamon) and deep fried to produce lumpy brown treats.
Having gone around the world for their culinary inspiration, it is refreshing that the Kampala Protea Hotel came back home with the Smoked Chicken In Banana Leaves with Karo.
Chicken pieces, with tomatoes and a few vegetables, are wrapped up in banana leaf and smoked to give them the unmistakable aroma of Luwombo. This is served with millet bread, better known as karo. It is strange that we are as impressed as we are about local food on the menu of a swanky international hotel, but maybe that just says a lot about prevailing attitudes to local food.
Finish strong with the Proteas Tiramisu, an Italian cheesecake of sorts, made with ladyfingers and mascarpone cheese.
In some parts of the world, “lady’s fingers” refers to okra, or gumbo, a green vegetable. Wrong number. These ladyfingers are semi-sweet, finger-like biscuits that are soaked in coffee, then carefully layered, alternating with mascarpone cheese and served chilled. The result is a multi-textural dish with soft, frosty mascarpone cheese and crunchy lady fingers with the lingering taste of coffee, which is known to be great for digestion, but most importantly, in this case, is delicious.
Photography: Julius Caesar Kasujja