MadagascarThe 10 best typical dishes of Madagascar

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The 10 best typical dishes of Madagascar

Indulging your taste buds while discovering a new destination is a trend that has been developing in recent years. Gastronomy is an integral part of the culture and heritage of a country. Travelling means discovering new landscapes but also new cultures. Since gastronomy is a culture, traveling also means tempting the taste buds with dishes that were previously unknown to us.

According to the famous chef René Redzepi:

People will travel anywhere for good food – it’s crazy. 

Each destination has its own culinary specialties and Madagascar also has its own specialties which differentiates it from other destinations. The big island is rich in culinary specialties with hundreds of unique dishes.

The famous Malagasy chef Mariette Andrianjaka said that :

We are rich in culinary specialties, hundreds. In our country, all four flavors exist in their natural state, that is, sweet, salty, sour and bitter and it is more important to exploit them.

 

The cuisine made on the island of Madagascar is generally composed of rice which is always present at every meal, and it is considered as the staple food of the Malagasy people. Rice is always accompanied by meat, fish, pork, zebu or chicken.

Nicolas Madagascar expert

Both rich and varied, Malagasy cuisine has a certain resemblance to Creole cuisine. It is both generous and spicy.

Even if in almost the entire island traditional Malagasy dishes are the most cooked, each region still has its specialities. Fish is more easily cooked in the east of the country. This one is flavoured with pepper, cinnamon, cloves or vanilla. While crabs are mainly the specialities in the North and West of the country.

Ravitoto (Crushed Cassava Leaves)
Ravitoto sy Henan-kisoa Madagascar
Ravitoto sy Henan-kisoa Madagascar

Photo : Flick user Sébastien FATH

Ravitoto is a traditional Malagasy recipe. These are specifically sweet cassava leaves (manioc tree) pounded with a mortar or meat grinder. It is cooked with garlic and very fatty pork.

In other societies, coconut milk is used instead to cook cassava leaves like “mataba” in the Comoros. You can add dried fish or small prawns, called “tsivaki”.

Ravitoto may not be very appetising at first glance, but the first bite will titillate your taste buds. Who doesn’t love this typical dish from Madagascar? With a little “rougail” and parsley, it also serves as a side dish for rice. The dish is really delicious and you quickly get attached to the taste.

Romazava

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Romazava is a traditional dish of Malagasy cuisine made with meat and edible leaves, including paracress. The meat used for Romazava is usually zebu in Madagascar or fairly fatty pieces of beef, but it can also be prepared with chicken or fish.

After browning the meat cut into large pieces in a little oil and adding onions or shallots, crushed garlic, chopped tomatoes and ginger, wet with several glasses of water and leave cook for about 45 minutes, until all the water has evaporated.

The tender parts of the edible leaves are then added as well as a few glasses of water, then this kind of pot-au-feu simmers for at least half an hour. At the end of cooking, the sauce should be relatively reduced and the meat tender.

It is served with white rice (unsalted and steamed), chili pepper and “rougail”. Romazava has a specific taste given by the flowers of paracress, which consists of a slightly pungent sensation and close to a slight anesthesia of the tongue and palate. The more the preparation contains paracress flowers, the stronger this sensation.

Koba Ravina
Koba Ravina Madagascar
Koba Ravina Madagascar

Photo : Flick user Sandra Venturoli

Koba Ravina is a Malagasy rice cake. The “Koba” means dough and “Ravina” means the leaves of a tree and Ravina akondro simply means banana leaf. The Koba ravina is therefore a steamed cake in banana leaves.

It is a famous appetizing Malagasy dessert which arouses great patience in the preparation but which is easily eaten. It is made from glutinous rice flour, bananas, peanuts and is cooked in banana leaves.

Koba Ravina can also be enhanced with vanilla, a true natural resource of Madagascar. It is consumed daily by the vast majority of Malagasy people, whether as a snack or as a dessert.

Ranon’ampango
Ranon'ampango Madagascar
Ranon’ampango Madagascar

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.

Lasary Voatabia 
Lasary Votabia Madagascar
Lasary Votabia Madagascar

Photo : Flick user Baumg’ ART

A great classic of Malagasy cuisine. The word “lasary” comes from the French word “achard”. Lasary voatabia is a variant of “rougail” found in Reunion Island, a neighboring island of Madagascar and is it also called “rougail” sometimes.

It is a specialty of the highlands of Madagascar, where it is eaten as an accompaniment or sometimes as a garnish on a baguette sandwich. Tomatoes and green onions join forces in this fresh, simple and tasty salad.

It is a fresh salad of finely chopped tomatoes macerated in vinegar. The preparation can be spiced at will.  Very easy to prepare, the lasary voatabia is ideal for sunny summer days and goes perfectly with Malagasy stews and grilled meats, served with rice and hot pepper for the most valiant.

Lasopy tongotr’omby (zebu foot soup)

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Also called beef foot soup, the lasopy tongotr’omby is part of the Malagasy culinary heritage. Rich and creamy, this soup can be enjoyed at any time, especially in winter.

It is a typical Malagasy dish. It is found in almost all the restaurants on the Big Island and especially on the highlands. Lasopy tongotr’omby is a dish that can be enjoyed for lunch or as a snack.

The main ingredients are: zebu feet, leeks, bunch of celery, carrots, potatoes, green beans and pumpkins. We can also add noodles and a hard-boiled egg to this preparation. This soup will be even more delicious.

Zebus foot soup takes a lot of preparation time. The day before, you should already cook the main ingredients, i.e. the ox trotters, over low heat. Like this, they will be well cooked and melt in the mouth. Pay attention to the cooking water level. It should just exceed that of the ox’s feet. Too much water will slow down their cooking.

Hen’omby ritra (braised meat)
Henomby ritra sy Tsaramaso Madagascar
Henomby ritra sy Tsaramaso Madagascar

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. This dish is very oily, very rich and very tasty … It is a real feast for the eyes and the taste buds.

Preparing Hen’omby ritra does not require special know-how. It’s an easy dish for novices to cook while it’s a snap for professionals. We only use zebu meat, a little vegetable oil, some spices and water.

This braised beef recipe is not eaten on its own as it is because the Malagasy people serve it with plain white rice. And in the province of Diego Suarez, it is tasted with rougail and chilli of course. And even when we add potatoes or carrots to it, the dish must remain very dry. With, maybe, just a little oil.

As an indication that there are 2 variations of this dish, in particular, with Zebu or pork. With a pork, we call the dish “Henakisoa Ritra”.

Mofo Gasy
Mofo Gasy Madagascar
Mofo Gasy Madagascar

Photo : Flick user Rovaniaina RABEZAKA

Mofo Gasy which means Malagasy bread is one of the breakfasts that Malagasy people appreciate very much. A kind of donut made from rice flour. Very delicious to accompany morning tea or coffee.

The realization of this donut requires a lot of practice and skill, because everything lies in the taste and the shape of the donut. And the specialists in the field do not really want to reveal their trade secrets. Nevertheless, I was able to find a few recipes that might do the trick.

First of all, to make mofo gasy, we need a special mold. The most ideal is the clay based one, but the most common are aluminum molds, 4 to 6 cells.

The ingredients are basically rice flour, yeast, water and sugar. These ingredients must be mixed in a bowl or salad bowl with water to obtain a smooth paste (neither too liquid nor too thick) homogeneous.

Then you have to let stand for an hour and finally take a special mofo gasy mold, oil the bottom of each hole and heat, then pour the leg into it, not overfilling the cells as this would risk overflowing given the increase in volume of the pancake after cooking.

Vary amin’ny anana
Vary amin'anana Madagascar
Vary amin’anana Madagascar

Photo : Flick user Ranouraii

Vary amin’anana which is a kind of rice soup is an ancestral Malagasy culinary tradition. Depending on the region of the island, its name and appearance vary, but the craze is the same. The Vary amin’anana which literally means “rice with leaves”.

In northern Madagascar, the recipe is known as “Sabeda”. This is fragrant new rice cooked as is with plenty of water for a relatively compact result. Basically, the Vary amin’anana of rice diluted with a lot of water to which we add edible leaves.

Vary amin’anana is eaten either for breakfast or for dinner. When taken for breakfast, it is often accompanied by “Masikita” which are the famous zebu or fish skewers. On the other hand, vary amin’anana served for dinner is lighter and can be eaten plain. These makes sense because it is dietetic in particular thanks to the digestive assets of ginger.

The common point in all forms of making Malagasy rice soup is the use of ginger. Because, to optimize its benefits, the spice which becomes stronger during cooking is added at the start of preparation. Indeed, whether fresh or ground, the benchmark spice for a good vary amin’anana remains ginger. It is because in our daily life as Malagasy people, the warmth of ginger is appreciated for its taste and its fragrance. And we find all the excuses to consume it: Sometimes to cure a cold, sometimes from a stomach ache or simply to comfort ourselves.

Voanjobory (Bambara peas)
Voanjobory sy Henakisoa Madagascar
Voanjobory sy Henakisoa Madagascar

Photo : Flick user Alittlepieceof

It is one of the cult dishes representing Madagascar. For those who do not know it, the bambara pea or ground pea is a small earth bean whose pods grow underground like peanuts, hence its name voanjobory in Malagasy (voanjo which means peanut and bory which means round). Its taste approaches that of pistachio mixed with that of white beans.

In Madagascar, it is often eaten fresh with pork or beef. However, bambara peas also go well with fish. For the recipe, you can take canned or dried bambara peas but it would be even better if you find fresh ones. If you are using dry peas, soak them in water overnight, then drain before use; fresh peas don’t need to be soaked, just wash them.

Until it’s safe to travel again, you can try this simple recipe at home. 

Coconut Chicken Curry for 4 persons :

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Nicolas Raherinjatovo

Thinking of visiting Madagascar? Be sure to check out our articles by Nicolas. Born in Madagascar, Nicolas knows his homeland like the back of his hand. But not only that, he is a tourism graduate and expert. Nicolas it the Travel Inspires' Madagascar specialist! He is passionate about writing and travelling.

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      The 10 best typical dishes of Madagascar

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