Nsenene is a Luganda word for an edible insect from the grasshopper family in Uganda. Nsenene belongs to the family of grasshoppers called the bush crickets. Nsenene breeds in the rainy seasons making it a seasonal insect in Uganda. Nsenene are harvested in the months of November and March during the rainy season in Uganda. Nsenene was traditionally a delicacy for the people in Central and south-western Uganda. Nsenene Ugandan grasshoppers have currently been hyped and have become a national delicacy.
The high demand for nsenene throughout the year in Uganda has created the need for scientific breeding of nsenene. Grasshoppers are limited by their very short life span. Scientists in Uganda have been researching the behavior, feeding and breeding of nsenene to ensure the availability of this insect all through the year.
Nsenene are highly nutritional, they are 36%- 40% composed of proteins. , 41-43 fat, 2.5 %-3.2% carbohydrates2.6–3.9% ash, 11.0–14.5% dietary fiber. Protein-rich edible insects like Nsenene Ugandan grasshopper are an alternative to plant and animal proteins. Grasshoppers are rich in unsaturated fatty acids and omega 3 which are healthy and good for the heart.
Nsenene harvesting has been commercialized to meet the demand and nsenene Ugandan grasshopper hype that has been trending. Many businesses men and women mostly in Masaka region have therefore invested in the process of harvesting these delicious insects.
Nsenene are harvested during the night, nsenene start to swarm around the light as it grows darker. Many people stay awake night after night to wait for these massive green insects to appear. They are then harvested with the aid of heavy beam lights that are attached to iron sheets.
A collection point below the iron sheets is created; drums are mostly used as collection points. Smokers are placed at the bottom to create smoke that makes the grasshoppers dizzy hence they can’t fly away. The heavy beam lights attract the grasshoppers towards the iron sheets from which they slide down to collection points.
Nsenene harvesting creates jobs for the harvesters during the 2 seasons that they migrate to Uganda in the months of March and November. More jobs are created down the supply chain to the final consumer of the nsenene. The transport system of nsenene from the harvesting area to the wholesale buyers, then the smaller traders, then to the small retailers is part of the supply chain. In markets, women are employed to clean and remove the wings from the nsenene.
THE FUTURE OF NSENENE BUSINESS
There is a growing fear with the reducing number of Nsnenene Ugandan Grasshoppers over the years. This has been attached to the cutting down of forests and trees and changes in the climate around the Lake Victoria area.
Scientists in Uganda have therefore started making advances towards artificial breeding of nsenene grasshoppers to curb the fear of reducing levels of grasshoppers in Uganda and the growing demand.
Professor Nyeko leading the team experimenting says, ‘ we are trying to develop procedures or protocols on how you can mass-rear these insects. Developing the nutritious feeds, and feeds that produce insects that we want in terms of quality, in terms of their taste,’ he explains
TRADITIONS AND CULTURE ASSOCIATED WITH NSENENE
The nsenene was traditionally not consumed by the women in central and southwestern Uganda. The women captured these delicious insects and prepared them for their husbands. Just like chicken culture forbade women to enjoy this nutritious insect.
Women in Uganda today are part of the nsenene grasshopper supply chain, participating in harvesting, vesting, frying, selling and consuming the nsenene. I would say they are the highest consumers of nsenene in Uganda today and are part of the nsenene Ugandan grasshopper hype.
PREPARING THE NSENENE
Have you tried out nsenene yet, or are you planning to make it for yourself at home with your family, here are steps of how to make a perfect snack out of the nsenene.
Nsenene has a crunchy and salty savoury taste that is like no other. They are good to munch on each bite leaves you craving for more. I first tasted nsenene grasshoppers in my high school vacation at my aunts’ place. My cousin prepared this delicious looking nsenene that is much-hyped about, she prepared it well with partially cooked onions. My first taste of this delicious insect was surely amazing; it is crunchy, chewy, salty and sweet. I wanted more; I admit that I kept tiptoeing to the kitchen to pick some more from what she had kept for later. I became part of the nsenene Ugandan grasshopper hype that day.
COOKING THE NSENENE UGANDAN GRASSHOPPER
3 cups of plucked nsenene
2 big onions, thinly diced
2 thinly grated carrots
Salt to taste
1 green pepper, thinly chopped
STEP 1, CLEANING
I pluck the wings and legs off the grasshopper. I use charcoal dust/ or ash to pluck the wings and legs so that my fingers do not become oily.
I then wash the nsenene over running water. I wash the nsenene until all the ash has been washed off, and the nsenene is thoroughly clean.
STEP 2, COOKING
I place the clean nsenene in a heavy-based frying pan over moderate heat. I start stirring until all the water has evaporated. I continue to stir frequently; the grasshoppers start to change colour from green to golden brown.
STEP 3, SEASONING
The nsenene is almost ready after 30 minutes to 45 minutes of stirring. I then add salt, pepper, onions, green pepper, and carrots respectively. I keep stirring for 5 minutes. I can now taste to see if the nsenene is ready, crunchy and well seasoned. I adjust it to suit my taste if it does not.
STEP 4, SERVING
Get your nsenene off the fire. You can eat them hot, cold, and frozen. You can eat your nsenene as a snack or as a meal.
5 DIFFERENT WAYS THE NSENENE UGANDAN GRASSHOPPERS CAN BE EATEN
With the nsenene Ugandan grasshopper hype on the rise in Kampala, City dwellers have invented and come up with different ways of eating nsenene.
UGANDAN ROLEX WITH NSENENE
The Ugandan Rolex is a delicious snack enjoyed by Ugandans every day. It is originally a chapatti and egg recipe rolled together with vegetables. The Ugandan Rolex has been modified to using nsenene as part of the recipe.
Ugandans have further modified the pizza recipes and created a delicious nsenene pizza. The addition of nsenene grasshoppers to the pizza makes it a churchy and chewy savoury taste.
NSENENE PASTED IN GROUNDNUT STEW
Grasshopper nsenene are being used in the Ugandan groundnut stew recipe. Just like the methods of pasting fish, meat or vegetables. You can replace the fish with nsenene making a nsenene groundnut stew. I have tested this and it was surely delicious.
NSENENE CAULIFLOWER PASTA
In this recipe, I used finely grated cauliflower and cooked it together with the pasta. Then when it was almost ready I added my already cooked nsenene to the mixture waited for five minutes. This time we shass replace our favorite meatballs with nsenene in our poasta. This is so far the most delicious pasta I have eaten in my life. It has both the additional flavours from the grasshoppers and crunchiness to it.
Ugandans have also added nsenene to their bread recipes. The vegetables can be replaced with grasshoppers in the sandwich. Nsenene are also placed between bread slices and still, the addition n is just delicious.