The Proven Platter: A Traditional Ugandan Mash, Deconstructed

This month’s Proven Platter recipe is a mash-up of sweet potatoes, beans, and peanuts that Ugandans call ‘Bufuke’.”

By Linda McElroy

Serves: 8 to 12
Approximate time – 1 hour
Difficulty rating – Easy

Hello Diners! Ah, I have to admit to the tiniest twinge of disappointment when I saw the roster for the next six months of programs—four out of six countries are African, and Uganda figures in twice – twice! How much Ugali can we eat?

BUT OF COURSE! These are the countries that most desperately need our help. So I dove right in. My challenge is to discover and try to be true to authentic dishes of the region, while at the same time making them appealing and tasty for the American palate. I think I’ve found some winners for you this month, and I’m especially excited about December’s menu, “A Ugandan Christmas” that you can look forward to in a few months.

My focus this month is “Bufuke,” a traditional Ugandan mash of sweet potatoes, beans and peanuts.
It’s a simple dish and you might wonder why I decided it needed testing at all.

The ingredients for this vegetarian dish are all winners in my opinion. Sweet potatoes, black beans, tomato, onion, coconut and peanuts. But the way it is typically prepared really didn’t excite my taste buds – a mash-up of sweet potatoes, beans and peanuts with a sauce poured on top. I didn’t imagine that it would be visually appealing either.

So I’ve come up with a deconstructed method for you. Instead of mashing all the ingredients together, I’ve kept them separate, to maximize the different flavor profiles and texture. And I’ve switched out the kidney bean originally called for and used black beans instead. But you should feel free to use whatever your favorite bean is.

I found this dish to be quite delicious and would definitely consider making it again. I hope you do, too!

Bufuke with Tomato and Onion Sauce

2 ½ to 3 lbs. sweet potatoes (orange ones are best, Garnet or Jewel)
1 15-oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup peanuts, roasted and salted, roughly chopped
salt and freshly-ground black pepper, to taste
red chile powder
cilantro leaves for garnish

For the Sauce

6 roma tomatoes (1 ½ pounds), halved and thickly sliced
2 onions (1 pound), halved and sliced
1 cup water or vegetable stock
1 cup coconut milk


Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease a casserole dish or baking pan large enough to fit the sweet potatoes. Ideally this will be the pan you are serving the dish from. Peel and dice the sweet potatoes into large chunks, toss into the greased pan, then season with salt and pepper and sprinkle with whatever type of red chile powder you like – I used chipotle chile powder. Drizzle with just a bit of oil, cover with foil and bake for about 30 minutes, or until soft. Remove from oven.

In the meantime, prepare the sauce. Heat a little oil in a pan, add the onions and fry for about 10 minutes, or until the onions are soft and lightly browned, then add the tomatoes and the water or stock, bring to a simmer and cook gently until the mixture starts to thicken and tomatoes break down, just a couple more minutes. Pour in the coconut milk and continue simmering, stirring frequently until the mixture thickens but is still soupy. Season to taste with salt. It shouldn’t take more than about 15-20 minutes to make the sauce. You still want your sauce to be chunky.

To serve, heap the roasted sweet potatoes on a large serving dish (or use the dish you baked it in), sprinkle with the black beans, pour over the tomato sauce, sprinkle with chopped peanuts, and garnish with cilantro leaves.

To serve this dish pot-luck style I would suggest bringing the dish with the sweet potatoes and black beans together, and the sauce and garnishes kept separate. Assemble when ready to serve.

Recipe adapted from CeltNet.org

LindaMcElroyAbout the author

Linda and her husband opened Ristorante Machiavelli in Seattle in 1988. After 25 years of cooking in and running a wildly successful neighborhood restaurant they sold the business and retired. Linda loves browsing through cookbooks, and the position of recipe curator provides her with a great excuse to indulge her passion.  Linda hopes the dishes she tests and recommends will create a great experience for those who replicate her work in their kitchens.