Malagasy specialties are vary from region to region. On the northeast coast of the country, many dishes are based on vanilla and coconut milk, ingredients evoking the sweetness of the islands. The region, with a humid climate(east), is known for its vanilla production. The spice was introduced by planters from Réunion at the end of the 17th century, and today forms an important part of the country’s economy. Madagascar being the first producer of vanilla in the world.
Atypical and diversified, Malagasy cuisine brings together very varied culinary traditions. Crossroads of many civilizations from all over the world, this big island in the Indian Ocean offers a rich diet from migrants from Africa, Southeast Asia, China, India and Europe. While the island is most famous for its wildlife, jumping lemurs, lush rainforests and bright-blue coastlines, it’s also become famous as a destination for food lovers. Malagasy cuisine is a must, to discover at all costs during your stays on the Red Island.
Here are few of typical dishes that you will undoubtedly enjoy during your stay on the big island:
Rice and “laoka”
Rice (or “vary” in Malagasy) has always been the staple food of the Malagasy people. It is eaten morning, noon and evening and is often associated with a specific dish called “laoka”. By “laoka” we mean any other food that is simmered to accompany the rice, generally in small quantities compared to the latter which occupies a large volume on the plate. The famous “laoka” can very well be meat simmered with spices (especially that of zebu, called “hen’omby ritra”), just as it can be vegetables (in sauce or in broth) or even poultry. We can also cite as local specialties of coastal towns seafood; in particular the fish with coconut and the curried shrimps in sauce of the East coast which make the fame of the region.
Voanjo bory sy hena kisoa
Though the name might seem like jargon, it is a simple dish of chopped pork and Bambara groundnuts. A bowl of salad and chili paste often serve as a side dish. The richness of pork combined with the nutty and earthy flavor of groundnuts would satisfy your taste buds to the fullest.
The Ravitoto (cassava leafs)
Ravitoto is Madagascar’s other national dish. A great classic of Malagasy cuisine, ravitoto is made from crushed cassava leaves that are cooked with pork, zebu meat or even fish. We can find this specialty in Africa, as in Congo, Cameroon or Gabon, under the name Saka Saka. Prepared in these countries with fish, the Malagasy recipe is made with meat.
It is very tasty, sometimes mixed with very fatty pork or grated coconut juice. The “Ravitoto” may not be very appetizing at first sight, but the first bite will titillate your taste buds. Who does not love this typical dish from Madagascar? With a little rougail and parsley, it also serves as a side dish for rice and replace the butter when put as a sandwich in the bread. The dish is really delicious and you quickly get attached to the taste.
Chicken with Coconut.
Akoho sy voanio or poulet au coco is a traditional chicken dish originating from Madagascar. It’s made with a combination of chicken pieces, coconut milk, tomatoes, onions, lemon juice, ginger, garlic, cayenne pepper, and seasonings such as salt and pepper. The meat is marinated in the lemon juice with salt and pepper, and it’s then placed into a pan with sautéed onions and garlic. When the chicken is nearly done, the heat is reduced and the tomatoes and ginger are added to the pan, along with coconut milk.
Eel and Porc
Vary amin anana.
It is a traditional dish originating from the high land of Madagascar. It’s made with a combination of onions, ginger, tomatoes, oil, water, rice, and collard greens or other leafy greens such as Swiss chard or kale. Rice is a Malagasy staple that’s usually eaten three times a day in the country. The ingredients are simmered until tender or until the water is absorbed. Vary amin anana is often served for breakfast or dinner during the winter.
Rice & Tilapia
Malagasy Tilapia served “Malagasy-style” means a fish cooked in a sauce made from tomatoes, greens (watercress), onions, garlic, ginger and other herbs and flavors. The resulting fish is tender, and the flavors spot on.
One of the great classics of Malagasy cuisine, “Romazava” (pronounced “Roumazave”) is an undisputed national dish. It is a mixture of zebu meat and brèdes. It serves as a complement to “vary” and “laoka”, bringing a taste of its own and which allows us to better savor our dishes. Currently revisited, its preparation varies from one cook to another depending on the local ingredients used.
Hen’ombyritra ( stewed beef)
This Laoka – Hen’omby ritra is also a must-have dish at the heart of your culinary adventure in Madagsacar. It is zebu meat cooked without water, without seasoning. This dish is very oily, very rich and very tasty … It is a real feast for the eyes and the taste buds. It is served in all the restaurants and hotels on the Big Island. Its taste is enhanced after two days and two nights of cooking over low heat. A cooking method very specific to the country and which makes the meat very tender.
Also known as Mosakiky, this Malagasy cuisine dish consists of skewers of grilled zebu meat. A true emblem of local street food, this marinated skewer is usualy prepared in the afternoon, but again, all combinations are possible. The masikita stands bloom at nightfall and bring everyone together around the fatapera, the Malagasy barbecue. Ideally, these specialties are savored on the beach, accompanied by a good dose of pickle, preferably spicy or THB the local popular beer.
Drinks in Madagascar Coffee and Tea in Madagascar Madagascar coffee is generally decent, though it may not quite live up to the strength and style of your favorite coffeehouse back home. It’s usually made with a cloth bag filter or strainer. Often, condensed milk is served with coffee instead of regular milk.
Tea in Madagascar is often a better, more unique bet. Try various flavors to see what suits you. The most notable flavor we tasted was citronella tea. A little strong, but certainly distinct.
Ranon’ampango” or “Ranovola” (meaning “golden water”) is a very popular traditional drink in Madagascar. This essential drink which is consumed hot comes from cooking rice stuck to the bottom of the pot provided for this purpose, which a certain amount of water is added and which has been intentionally burnt. You should know that there is a wide variety of rice, such as red rice, very popular in the province of Fianarantsoa; but to make “Ranon’ampango”, white rice is the most suitable in order to keep the traditional taste. This drink is consumed at mealtime and is appreciated for its healing properties, in addition to considerably reducing thirst.
Finally, let’s talk about desserts, which consist not only of fresh tropical fruits (tamarind, mango, pineapple, lemon, guava, avocado,coconut,Orange,Banana,lechit), but also of all kinds of sweets typical of French pastry making, as well as chocolate.
To accompany the meal, the Malagasy national drinks that you can taste are Toaka Gasy or Betsabetsa, two alcoholic drinks made with the fermentation of rice or sugar cane. There is also a large production of local rum and an ancient custom of drinking palm wine or known as Betsabetsa in Malagasy.
You now know what to eat in Madagascar. I recommend to taste each dish on your trip with us. So when out exploring the region, do remeind your guide to let take some time to try these traditional foods out.