Citizens, there is much that divides Americans these days – left vs. right, climate change deniers vs. climate change believers, vaccinations vs. leaving your children to die (it’s obvious where TFD stands on this one issue) and pro-immigration vs. anti-immigration. This last is a particularly touchy point of discussion in the States – but there is no question that while most of the world is leaning more and more towards anti-immigration policies, one African nation bucks the trend: Uganda (as noted in this BBC article)! As such, allow me to share one of the great prides of Ugandan cuisine with you – the infamous and delicious Rolex!
Rolex is – despite it’s apparently obvious name – a tasty snack and not an expensive watch. Rolex is a popular food item in Uganda, combining an egg omelette and veggies wrapped in a chapati – but not the typical Indian version, one that is unique to East Africa.
This single-portion dish is quick to prepare, and can be eaten at any time of the day, from breakfast to a lunch or supper meal or snack. The name “rolex” comes from its method of preparation, with the chapati and the omelette rolled together (“rolled eggs”).
The dish originated from a chapati seller’s creativity in the Busoga region, then the idea spread to Wandegeya next to Makerere University, fueled by students who needed a quick meal because of time and budget limitations. The name rolex came from ‘rolled eggs’, but pronounced in the heavy Luganda accent, it sounds like ‘rolex’.
The delicacy soon spread throughout Uganda and then further afield to Kenya and Tanzania. It became a popular food choice for its combination of convenience, low cost, and taste.
Other terms and variations related to rolex include:
“Titanic”: two or more chapatis used together in rolling the portion.
“Kikomando”: the chapati is sliced and mixed with beans. This name is inspired by the commando soldier or unit eating quickly in the field, or to the casual style of “going commando.” It can also refer to someone unafraid of getting messy by eating street food with the hands.
While most Rolexes are vegetarian, your beloved Carnivorous Leader craves meat at all times – and I managed to find an outstanding hybrid recipe on kaluhiskitchen.com that incorporates Kenya’s love for meat and cheese with this recipe. I’ve respectfully used it as the base for my own version.
I found some great tips on how to make a proper rolex at globaltableadventure.com:
A mug or cup must be used to mix the ingredients together. A standard to over-sized mug easily holds all the ingredients for a 2-egg Rolex. The high sides make whipping the mixture together a splash-free activity. No wonder all the street vendors use one!
Second, the egg mixture must be poured onto a hot, well-oiled pan and spread out with the same spoon used to whip the eggs.
Again, this is all about thinking like a street vendor: No use getting another utensil dirty!
Once the first side is cooked, flip the eggs over. They should be lightly browned.
The bottom side will brown less – but you’ll be able to see those pretty ingredients…
As they cook, the hot eggs steam and soften the harsh crunch of cabbage and onion, while also stewing the tomatoes. A good dash of salt brings the flavors together into a craveable bite of Uganda.
Here’s the next pro tip from Uganda:
While the eggs are still in the pan, top them with a large chapati. The steam coming off the eggs will soften the chapati and make it easier to roll.
Finally, many Rolex are wrapped in newspaper for serving.
The East African chapati recipe is cribbed from one I found at africanbites.com – follow it to the letter to get the proper flakiness and texture found in Uganda!
I’ve made a few tweaks to the recipes I found to make it a truly deluxe version suitable for the palates of TFD Nation! For one, I have gone pan-African here and recommend using sweet and spicy pickled South African Peppadew peppers instead of just plain red bell peppers. Whole Foods usually carries them at the salad bar or you can buy them here.
Remember that my version is far more deluxe than the humble egg/cabbage/onion/bell pepper mix in street rolexes – feel free to omit everything except these ingredients if you want a truly authentic Ugandan version instead of my own. I also added more spices to the meat to give it a truly flavorful kick!
I hope you enjoy this delicious taste of Uganda, my Citizens – and remember to respect their decision to take in all legal refugees in need, as we once did and perhaps may still again…
Battle on – the Generalissimo