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Ugali and Mala; The Perfect Duo Defining Kenyan Cuisine

Ugali is the starch of choice in Kenya while mala is fermented milk (buttermilk). Both of these foods are traditional to most ethnic groups, this post will overview how ugali mala is still relevant and a perfect combo centuries later.

ugali, mala

Ugali and mala is probably the simplest dish you can whip up, if you thought ugali mayai was the simplest, this one is even more since you only have to cook one thing; which is ugali. 

Mala can be bought from the shops ready to consume, or made at home in advance.

The entire meal can be ready in less than 10 minutes!


Serves: 1 (One)

  1. 500 ml, Maziwa Mala 
  2. 2 Cups, Maize Meal 
  3. 2 Cups, Water

If you are unsure which maize meal is the best; check this out

Grocery Guide: The 10 Popular Maize Flour Brands in Kenya 

Personally, here I went with a whole-grain version and not the ordinary sifted one. For the mala my personal favorite and choice is from Bio Foods, you can check other equally good brands from this link; 

10 Popular Milk Brands in Kenya Ranked From Worst to Best

Ugali and Mala


Before getting started, ugali and mala go best when ugali is steaming hot and mala is refreshingly cold, the differences in temperatures is what makes this combo stand out, it is like a neutralization reaction.

  1. So if you bought your mala warm, let it rest in the fridge for like 30 minutes
  2. Bring water to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low
  3. Add 1 cup of flour mix, and let it all bubble, till thick and heavy
  4. Add the remaining flour, not all at once but gradually while combining, and pounding against the walls of your sufuria(pot)
  5. Once solid and flour evenly combined, let it cook, by steaming. You can cover the pot at this point 
  6. Once you smell popcorn-like aroma then your ugali is ready, take off the heat and serve directly to your plate.
  7. Optionally slice it as you please, 
Ugali dough ready to serve
Ugali dough ready to serve
Ugali Slices
Ugali Slices

My ugali is wholegrain which is why it doesn’t look smooth, you will get better results by using grade 1 sifted maize meals but nutritionally, this wholegrain version is more healthy and packs way more nutrition.

Results & Taste

Ugali and Mala

Ugali tends to be rather plain, truth be told; it mostly complements other dishes without having a strong taste of its own. 

The dominant flavors here often come from the mala – its tanginess, coolness, and creaminess take the forefront. Ugali’s role seems to be more about filling and warming everything up, while the coldness of the mala takes a contrasting direction. 

It’s these contrasts that elevate this combination to a heavenly level; it’s not just about taste but also the contrasting textures

Ugali has a rough, gritty texture, while mala is smooth and creamy. Similarly, they differ in serving temperatures; also, ugali is solid while mala is a viscous liquid. These distinctive qualities are precisely why they complement each other so perfectly!

Nutritional Information

a) Mala Nutrition per 100ml serving;

Calories: 64kcal, (267kJ)

Protein: 3g

Carbs: 3g

Fats: 3g

b) Whole Grain Maize Meal

Per 100g Serving Calories: 343kcal, Carbohydrates: 84g, Fat 4.5g Proteins: 8.1g  Fiber:8.5g

Vitamin C 0mg0% Vitamin D 0mcg(0%) Iron 2.8mg(15%) Calcium 8.2mg(1%) Potassium 368.5mg(8%) Phosphorus 318.2mg(25%)

c) Premium Sifted Maize Meal

Per 100g Serving Calories: 92kcal, Carbohydrates: 21.5g, Proteins: 2.2g, Fiber: 0.8g, Fat: 21.5g

Ugali and Mala

Ugali Mala Recipe

Ugali, Kenya's go-to starch, is amazing with mala, a traditional fermented milk.
This combo is a favorite across Kenya and is super easy to whip up. Just cook maize meal into a thick, robust porridge for the ugali, and serve it with chilled mala.
The hot ugali and the cool, tangy mala make a deliciously contrasting pair that's both comforting and refreshing.
Prep Time 2 minutes
Cook Time 3 minutes
Course Main Course
Servings 2 people
Calories 610 kcal


  • 1 Pot
  • 1 Wooden Cooking Stick
  • Tongs(Kamata) Optional if your pot has a handle


  • 500 ml maziwa mala (fermented milk)
  • 2 cups cups maize meal
  • 2 cups water


  • If the mala is warm, let it rest in the fridge for about 30 minutes to cool.
  • Bring 2 cups of water to a boil in a pot.
    Gradually add 1 cup of maize meal to the boiling water, stirring continuously.
    Let it simmer until thick and heavy.
  • Gradually add the remaining maize meal while stirring and pounding against the pot's walls.
    Once the mixture is solid and the maize meal is evenly combined, let it cook, covered, by steaming.
  • When you smell a popcorn-like aroma, the ugali is ready.
    Remove from heat.
    Serve the ugali on a plate, optionally slicing it as desired.
  • Enjoy the hot ugali with chilled mala for a delicious contrast in temperature and flavor.


  • Maize Meal Type: Use your preferred type of maize meal, whether whole grain or sifted, for the ugali.
  • Cooking Technique: Gradually add maize meal to boiling water while stirring continuously to avoid lumps in the ugali.
    1. Texture and Flavor: Ugali tends to be plain and bland, while mala provides tanginess and creaminess. The combination offers a pleasing contrast in texture and taste.

Related Links

Ugali Mayai Recipe: The Saviour of Starving Campus Students

Whole Grain Ugali: Recipe & Discussion

Recipe: Authentic Kenyan Ugali Step by Step

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