Eshabwe is to Ankole what the luwombo is to Buganda. Both local sauces can pair up just about any food - matoke, posho, sweet potatoes, rice, millet bread, etc.
While the luwombo (usually meats or groundnut paste steamed in banana leaves) has been embraced by a larger section of the country, eshabwe has hardly gone beyond the boundaries of Ankole in western Uganda.
Surprisingly, even in Mbarara town, the city of Ankole, not all local restaurants have fully embraced this clarified ghee (milk solids separated from water through melting) dish. Reason? It is a special meal served for special occasions for special people.
Eshabwe is made from ghee, which must be at least three weeks old. After three restaurant checks, finally, I found it at Mbarara Fruit Centre off the Mbarara-Kabale road, where Luganda seemed to be the ‘national’ language and Runyakore the ‘official’ language.
The eshabwe is surprisingly white, given the naturally yellow ghee it is made from, but apparently the whiteness is caused by the added salt and little water. It is a sauce served cold hence hygiene in preparation and serving is paramount and Mbarara Fruit Centre is a very tidy and spotlessly clean restaurant.
On its own, eshabwe tastes like ghee with salt – a straightforward taste, but combine it with food, and suddenly it becomes a tasteful salty and creamy sauce.
It tasted so good with the kalo and sweet potatoes, but even sweeter with the steamed matooke. It is a sauce that can pair perfectly with any food. The cheap price of just Shs 7,000 is well-befitting for this straight sauce.