A First Timer’s Guide to Kampala’s Rolling Chicken

Kampala’s sliced chicken as spotted in Wandegeya, Kampala. Internet photo

Kampala, Uganda’s capital, receives millions of people daily; most come in and out as hustlers, survivors, Uganda tourism enthusiasts, and rarely natives. That said, the city’s delicacies and unique cuisine often slip into town undetected.

Think about it like this. Have you eaten a giant bowl of ice cream on a sad day? Or hot soup on a cold day? Or a Mars bar of chocolaty goodness on a long commute from work? It’s hard to put a finger on what makes something so simple feel so good; but whatever it is, it always feels so comforting!

Perhaps it is the high sugar content, the warmth as the soup settles in your stomach, or the ease with which these treats are available. It just feels good. That is how I feel about rolling TV chicken, a yet-to-be-discovered world Ugandan delicacy.

Add to that the almost comical process of obtaining it, and you have yourself a fascinating cultural experience. Wandegeya, a small suburb minutes from the city centre and adjacent to Uganda’s largest and most recognizable university, is home to the majority of this swirling roasted poultry, colloquially known as “TV chicken” due to the sights it exudes during preparation.

Wandegeya, the center of this delicacy, does not immediately win you over; it appears unimportant with its mostly worn-out, business-like structures strewn about.

However, one bite into the served chicken, and you will be on your way to an unrivalled cultural experience in the region. The term “rolling chicken” was coined to describe the tasty chicken that is roasted in rectangular electric ovens (which look uncannily like TVs) with a transparent patch through which the chicken can be seen ‘rolling’ as it roasts.

The chicken itself is prepared with laser skill in record time by teams of typical young men that also represent Uganda’s second-youngest country statistic. They are assisted by skilled marketers who stand strategically to entice visually ensnared customers to their stalls.

While we cannot claim that this delicacy can only be found in Wandegeya; I do believe that the way it’s done in Wandegeya is unique and worth considering for a full Uganda trip.

After the chicken has been roasted, the chefs cut it into pieces and marinate it with cooked cabbage, curry, crisp potato chips, and a variety of flavors to give it character. When finished, this heavily curry-mixed dish is served on massive platters, to the delight of any heart.

The finished product is colorful and juicy (interesting that I use the term for a soupy meal, but well), and it is frequently accompanied by drinks ordered from a nearby establishment.

Meanwhile, customers have the freedom to request extras depending on their cravings and budget. A full chicken can easily be bought for 28.000 UGX, while a half chicken will cost half that price. Not too bad, if anyone’s asking.

Visitors may also find the bargain for a singular customer quite interesting as droves of chicken sellers bombard a single customer and pitch their cooked poultry as superior, but isn’t everyone’s in Wandegeya anyway?

Imagine getting surrounded by a dozen vendors pitching amidst the sweet rising scent of fried cabbage and chicken skin.  You may be surprised to find your hand held as you are led to a seat you did not request, by someone you do not recognize. All of this is part of the Rolling TV Chicken experience. This is a uniquely Kampala experience, this is a Uganda travel experience.

We cannot judge what a man’s got to do in the pool of possibilities! You can always pre-select a vendor for a more premium experience to avoid the frenzy of being tossed with an already lured nostril.

Once there, do not expect a fancy place to sit, as plastic chairs are the norm, comfort takes second place here, and meal quality reigns.  If you are looking for convenience, our local travel experts recommend having vendors pack your chicken and deliver it to your hotel room.

We all know that a destination’s food is an important part of its story; a tidbit of its identity that allows one to share in its psyche; Uganda’s Rolling TV Chicken will allow you to do just that.

Hopefully, you will tell us your own story, for now, why not get your experience lined up by including a Kampala city tour in your itinerary? Why not talk to our travel advisor about the trip?

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