4 Dishes You Have to Try at Immy’s African Cuisine

Immy Kaggwa brings her hearty take on the dishes of Africa to an East Side storefront.

The craving is deep and persistent, and suddenly I’m catapulted back to a farmers market Sunday, with a stomach I didn’t realize was so hollow until I saw the Immy’s African Cuisine truck – and the long line leading up to the window. I waited, then planted myself on the grass with some egusi stew, fufu (a starchy softball of pounded mashed yams) and a couple of fresh, hot samosas and relished the comfort this meal brought. Now, Immy Kaggwa is serving up African and Caribbean goodness in her own space, the former Shahrazad on Oakland just south of Locust, and the food is as luscious as ever.

Immy Kaggwa; Photo by Aliza Baran

The setup inside is simple and efficient. The counter where you order and pay also functions as a buffet station, with a half-dozen or so dishes – what Uganda native Kaggwa and her cooks are offering that day – in chafing dishes. They serve you for carryout or on-site dining in the 40-seat adjacent room, next to a wall of woven African baskets. Most of the classics Kaggwa offers at her truck (still operating Sundays at the Shorewood Farmers Market) are here. She’d hoped to offer more new things, but, like just about everyone else, she’s looking for more kitchen help. 

Kaggwa came to the cooking business later in life. After settling in Milwaukee in 1990, she worked in the insurance and health care fields, only picking up the cooking trade when she became a mom. While she’s used a shared kitchen space on the Northwest Side for carryout and catering and liked the communality – “You meet people, share different ideas and you carry those ideas into your new space,” she says – she’s happy to be on her own, close to many of her market fans, and eager to bring African cuisine to a wider audience. Ask her what she eats, and Kaggwa says besides trips to Chipotle and Oakland Gyros a few storefronts away, it’s “fufu with a stew every day. I don’t cook at home!”


 

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Vegetarian samosas at Immy’s African Cuisine; Photo by Aliza Baran

Four Immy’s Essentials:

Smoked jerk chicken: Kaggwa puts a twist on the spicy grilled chicken, a staple throughout the Caribbean, by turning it into a stew. It’s saucy, tender, so flavorful and will make your lips prick from the smoked hot pepper. Eat it with white par-boiled rice. 

Vegetarian peanut stew: The rich, nutty stew – thick with eggplant and mushrooms – is excellent served over white rice or with fufu.  

Jollof rice: Available every other day, the dish gets its vibrant color from tomatoes and full-bodied flavor from smoked turkey, fish stock and beef bones.  

Samosas: Immy’s flaky filled triangles are inspired by both Somali meat-filled sambusas and Indian vegetable samosas, and yet are their own thing – the pastry phyllo-light, the filling either curried ground turkey or tender potato.  

Immy’s African Cuisine

2847 N. OAKLAND AVE. | 414-212-8738

Hours: Tues-Sun 3-9 p.m.

Prices: Entrée stews $10-$19

Service: Quick and friendly


 

 

This story is part of Milwaukee Magazine‘s September issue.

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Ann Christenson has covered dining for Milwaukee Magazine since 1997. She was raised on a diet of casseroles that started with a pound of ground beef and a can of Campbell's soup. Feel free to share any casserole recipes with her.