“Sir, I insist, I have to place the meal in front of you,” the waiter told me after I had signalled for him to place the meal on the other side of the table.
I was buried into my laptop, but at Furaha restaurant off Gadaffi road in Makerere, meal times are meal times, I was to learn. I ordered for Mchemsho Wa Samaki because I was looking for a unique dish at this Swahili restaurant.
Never mind that my Kiswahili starts and ends with “habari”, “mzuri” and “hapo”.
If English is the official language at this restaurant, then Kiswahili is its natural language.
Thanks to the detailed menu and helpful waiter, Isaac Mkisha, I learnt that Mchemsho Wa Samaki is boiled fresh fish later baked with fresh vegetables and mushroom, loved by Swahili fishermen.
After about 25 minutes, a gigantic steaming tilapia was delivered in one of the most appetising plating you can ever see – vegetable and fruit garnishes tactfully and tastefully dotting every inch of the plate.
Maybe this made the meal appear larger than it was, since we first eat with our eyes and noses; sadly, my love for unique dishes is often not matched with an elastic stomach.
But even for heavy-duty eaters, this is a big meal enough for two. Yes, the Shs 35,000 seems a bit high, but for the giant of the fish the meal is served with and given the current market fish prices, it may be not so high, after all.
This is an ideal occasional meal to break from the monotonous Kampala lunch cuisine. The tilapia was served with mashed potatoes (or rice, if you prefer), French beans, cucumber, boiled Irish potatoes and a tasty gravy.
“This is a meal for people who love fish and are into boiled food and are cautious about their nutrition,” said Mkisha.
Indeed, the meal looked and tasted very natural with hardly any pungent spicing. If your gut is a moody one, this is down your alley. The only downside: for us regular fish eaters, we can easily differentiate between the taste of ‘lake tilapia’ and ‘pond tilapia’.
This tilapia tasted like it was pond-grown – basically unnatural without that distinct ‘free range fish’ smell or flavour.
Lake tilapia will always carry the day the same way free range chicken cannot be compared to broilers. Furaha’s mashed potatoes melt in the mouth and make you want to eat more and more even when full.
This restaurant is ideal for corporate staff mealtimes with tables capable of sitting up to five or more in the lounge.