In 1972 the Ugandan dictator Idi Amin declared that the country’s Asian population had 90 days to leave. At that time this amounted to approximately 60,000 citizens who had built lives and businesses in the country. Around 30,000 of these people were British passport holders and were forced to leave everything behind and return to the country. Many arrived penniless, having been robbed of their possessions and assets before leaving the country, and their new home was not the most welcoming in many cases.
You’re probably thinking, why am I telling you this? It is to give you some context about the origins of Kitgum Kitchen which has taken up a residency at the Sir Charles Napier pub in Hanover. The recipes were one of the few things brought over to the UK by a one such family, and the combination of African street food and Gujarati cuisine is causing a stir in this cosy Hanover pub.
I visited on a Tuesday evening and the pub was bustling and lively, with most people waxing lyrical about the food. One couple told me it was their third visit in recent weeks. It would appear the kitchen is breathing new life into this traditional local boozer. The menu has a selection of light bites to start and a rotating choice of curries for the main event. Two things immediately strike me reading the menu; first, I love that you can feel the family history of the dishes when reading it; second, the prices are incredibly reasonable with the most expensive curry coming in at £8.50.
We start with chicken samosas (£4.50), Mohogo chips (£3.50) and Kitgum meatballs (£4.50), followed by Lamb Kaylo (£8.50) and Kuku Paka (£8.50). After a short wait our starters arrive, each with a homemade pickle or dip of their own. The samosas are beautifully fresh and zingy benefitting from a little squeeze of lemon. The meatballs are delicately spiced and have a dense meaty texture, which goes fantastically with the coconut pickle. The chips, made from cassava, are crisp on the outside and light and fluffy within and come with their signature tamarind ketchup. Feeling impressed, the mains arrive looking every part the family favourites. The star is the lamb Kaylo which is rich and sweet, it goes fantastically with the side of Kichidi – a buttery lentil and rice mash. The Kuku Paka, a chicken and potato curry, didn’t quite reach the heights of the lamb dish, however, with coconut and ginger spicing made for a hearty and comforting dish.
A couple of things struck me about my meal at Kitgum. I found the that the food was very fresh and light, the dishes had no greasiness or oily residue. This meant that the big hearty portions didn’t make me feel lethargic. More importantly, it is food with heart and makes you feel good when you eat it, and you cannot ask for more than that.
50 Southover St, Brighton, BN2 9UE