Thursday, December 8, 2022
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Places: Eating life in Naalya

by Editorial Team
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By Titus Kakembo

There is no menu. What guides you is your ability to sniff the spicy scents of cooking dishes. To get there one just has to slope down the valley. Avoid all the walled fenced neighbourhoods and dash for the one minus a gate. It is like a serene home.

Bodaboda in Namugongo, Ntinda and Naalya often serve as the A-Z if one fails to locate it on Google map.

The signature dishes are Fish Katogo and Pork Katogo. Diners have their eyebrows raised with surprise. The portions are generous, spiced and tongue flirting.

Besides that, admire anything comprising: wall hanging, potted flowers, furniture, cutlery – just name it, ask for the price tag, pay and it is all yours.

This is Naalya Motel which flung its doors after opening up the COVID-19 lockdown.

Come September 8, 2022, and I was in the company of Judith Asimwe who doubles as a chef, interior décor specialist and accountant. She beams with smiles while ushering strangers to the club, dine, sip coffee or club. Serene it is.

“Come Friday, Saturday and Sunday and, it is a hive of families, newly found lovers,” confides Asimwe.  “Calm and composed they are – our clients.”

“To avoid waiting too long after placing an order, we request people to place their orders on phone. They cruise in and find it ready. The culture is gathering momentum.”

Asimwe says impressed diners, who have flown back to the USA, Europe or Asia, will not hesitate to place orders for their friends in Kampala or in transit before directing them to go over.

“We had a client from Vietnam,” reveals Asimwe. “She sampled our Katogo and other cuisines but also taught us how she prefers her rice, potatoes and beans prepared.”

Asimwe has applied Vietnam spicing with the different Katogo varieties and got positive responses from diners.

“Some friends ask me to teach them how I do it,” says Asimwe. “I tell them there are no written formulae in Nalya Motel. We keep trying new mixtures. Flexibility on the pot is all it takes.”

A walk in the bedroom is a revelation of a 6X6 bed in one of the suites,” says Asimwe. “Do not be shocked if you came back at night to find it gone. If a client loves it, they ask the price we name it and deliver it within Kampala City.”

Aggrey Nshekanabo a veteran journalist and tour operator has lent the facility another touch.

“Tourism in Uganda has its fulcrum in Kampala before storming national parks, scaling mountains and tracking primates,” says Nshekanabo. “Most fellow tour operators pop in for a meal, beer, or coffee before hitting the road to Kidepo Valley National Park or Bwindi Impenetrable Forest.”

The interior decor of one of the rooms. Photo by Titus Kakembo

Nshekanabo recommends the sampling of Katogo, Rolex and a sip of Uganda Waragi or one’s trip to this destination is considered incomplete.

“A tot or coffee punched with Uganda Waragi is a starter of what destination Uganda has to thrill tourists at  Nalya Motel,” confides Nshekanabo. “Cakes can be baked with some Vodka or Uganda Waragi.”

The history of the Rolex having its roots in the Indian Nan or Chapati later  repackaged with eggs, minced beef and vegetable is a story many tourists fancy to write home about.

The interior of one of the bedrooms at Naalya Motel. Photo. Titus Kakembo

“Naalya Motel has floor mats, table mats, sculptures, flower pots and handmade African frocks /footwear for mementoes of destination Kampala or Uganda for both domestic and international tourists.”

There are lessons for children and housewives to prepare traditional delicacies comprising Luwombo, Eshabwe and Emolokony in urban settings. Chef Brenda Draru says the ingredients are readily available in the Kampala markets.

“To add variety to our menu,” says Draru. “We will soon have angara (fish only found in Arua) and Sombe onthe menu to cater for homesick tongues from West Nile working and residing in Kampala City.”

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