Culture

Nsenene: The Ugandan delicacy

Its only in Uganda that you find such tasty grasshoppers that take a full year to mature only to be intensely harvested in the month of November, despite the fact that they do fly in other months. Many people pay a hefty price to have a taste of these insects that are extremely delicious.

Coming across this delicacy is a pride that many Ugandans enjoy especially when the season is on to the extent that some Ugandans abroad send in orders so that friends back home export them to the various places in the diaspora so that they keep in up with the delicious season.

These bush crickets are very crunchy and can become addictive especially if one gets to taste those that have been well fried. They are always on demand in the season to the extent that business people find it lucrative to invest in iron sheets and electricity with hope of making a clean profit off these hoppers.

nse-2

Photo credit: Deke Kincald

The price

Nsenene lovers will pay a steep price just to get a meal of hoppers. November is nsenene season especially around Central Uganda where the long-horned grasshopper is a delicacy. It is the reason why November is named “musenene” right after these bush crickets. One would think that these insects have an addictive ingredient that makes many crave for them?

It’s been of recent that women in Uganda started eating these grass hoppers. In earlier days, they were tasked to harvest them of which they would be rewarded with a “gomesi” by their husband. With the change in times and information, women too nowadays enjoy this delicacy due to its high nutrious value in fat, fibre and protein. A Ugandan lady of today would live to tell a great story of how much women of those days missed a great delicacy!

The preparation

To prepare them, the nsenene are plucked free of their wings and legs, washed and fried with salt and onions for flavor.   No oil or fat should be added as they have their own natural fat that melts away in the process. This fat flows from their juicy abdomen. The insects can also be boiled or sun-dried and eaten on their own or served alongside other dishes. In some homes, they are served as a starter.

The nutrients

At 41-43 per cent, the fat content in grass hoppers is high and is comparable to edible oil seeds such as pumpkin seeds at 41 per cent and ground nuts at about 49 per cent. The delicious insects have a higher fat content than soybean at 18.6 per cent and avocado at 12 per cent, which are some of the commonly consumed high fat plant foods in Uganda. The grasshopper meal is high in unsaturated fatty acids with omega 9 being the predominant monounsaturated fatty acid, which has been associated with lower cardiovascular disease risk.

Nsenene, whose scientific name is Ruspolia Nitidula contains dietary fiber, which is rare of any animal based foods. The amount of dietary fiber in Nsenene higher than that in plant sources like peas, bananas or avocado.

The carbohydrate content of grasshoppers, while lower than many plant food sources, is higher than that of meat and fish which have practically no carbs.

The Quick recipe:

Harvest grasshoppers- through the use of iron sheets and lights at night

  1. Pluck wings and limbs off
  2. Soak in water for 15-20 minutes
  3. Drain the water from pan
  4. Salt and onions if you like seasoning
  5. Fry until golden brown over medium heat
  6. Stir occasionally to prevent burning
  7. Add salt to taste.

And lastly, enjoy them cause they are awesomely delicious!

Nsenene have a high nutrition value. Photo credit: Daily Monitor

Nsenene have a high nutrition value. Photo credit: Daily Monitor

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