Madagascar dishes will be a godsend for gourmets who are tired of the usual food and want to try something exotic. The island was isolated from the rest of the world for a long time, so the local population used products of plant and animal origin, typical only for this region, in cooking. But it cannot be argued that Madagascar (Malagasy) cuisine is completely original, since its culinary traditions were influenced by migrants from Asian, European and African countries.
Characteristics of Madagascar cuisine
A feature of the local cuisine is that almost all of its main dishes, side dishes and snacks are seasoned with a lot of hot green peppers. Before serving, add the achard garlic-tomato sauce to the meal. Sometimes curry or soy sauce is used instead.
Madagascar’s cuisine is a special part of the country’s culture, which will be appreciated by lovers of unusual food.
Any food additives are generously flavored by Malagasy culinary experts with aromatic herbs growing on the island, thanks to which the dishes acquire a unique aroma and taste.
How island cuisine developed
Madagascar was discovered between 100 and 500 AD. sailors from Borneo. After that, immigrants from the Greater Sunda Islands began to actively inhabit it. They brought here rice, yams, sweet potatoes, taro, sugarcane and other foods that they used to cook in their homeland. Researchers believe that chickens and pigs appeared in Madagascar thanks to these settlers.
Having settled down, the islanders began to develop agriculture in their new homeland, burning large areas of tropical forests for land.
In addition to products grown in the fields, they ate honey, mushrooms, seeds and fruits of various plants, as well as food of animal origin (larvae and insects, meat of birds, turtles, lizards, fish and seafood).
Around 1000, the local population included the meat of the zebu antelope, brought to the island by migrants from East Africa. Trade links with Arabs, Indians and Europeans brought many new types of spices, vegetables and fruits to Madagascar.
Basic cooking methods in Madagascar
In Malagasy cuisine, different types of thermal processing of food are used: frying, stewing, boiling, smoking, steaming. To increase the shelf life, meat and fish are dried and dried.
What products are used most often in Madagascar
Madagascar cuisine cannot be imagined without rice, hot spices and seafood. The local population uses these products to prepare many main dishes.
Rice is at the forefront of Malagasy cuisine. It is prepared in various ways and served as a side dish for any dish (meat, fish, cheese, vegetables, etc.). Locals call this cereal “var” (vary), and the side dish to it is called “loka” (laoka).
Rice dishes are served on the island with hot sauces made with green peppers, curries, garlic, ginger, onions and spices.
Rice and hot green peppers are essential ingredients in many Madagascar dishes.
The most popular spice is the green hot pepper, from which the Malagasy make their signature sakai sauce.
In addition to pepper, the inhabitants of the island use ginger root, garlic, onions, cloves, curry, turmeric and other condiments that add spice and piquant flavor to the dishes.
In the coastal waters of Madagascar, shrimps, squids, lobsters, sea urchins, crabs, various types of fish and other seafood are found. Their inhabitants of the island state eat in large quantities along with rice.
In Malagasy cuisine, there are dishes in the preparation of which meat is used along with fish or seafood. Despite the unusual combination of products, the food is delicious.
What dishes are honored on the island
Madagascarians love hearty and tasty food that relieves hunger for a long time. As a side dish for rice, they often eat salads and meat dishes, and their favorite pastries are croissants, which are as popular in this island state as in France.
The most common snacks in Madagascar are:
- Ro salad. The basis of the dish is rice, richly seasoned with herbs and spices.
- Anana salad. To prepare this snack, rice is mixed with shrimp and spices.
In addition, the local population prepares salads from raw and boiled vegetables (sweet potatoes, corn, tomatoes, etc.). Dried cassava leaves, various spices and herbs are added to them. Salads, like any other national cuisine, are seasoned by Malagasy people with hot sauces.
Croissants with any filling
The fashion for croissants appeared in Madagascar during the French colonization. Although the island nation became independent long ago, fresh and crispy bagels are still a favorite delicacy of the Malagasy people. Croissants are baked with different fillings (chocolate, fruit, nut, curd, etc.) and served with tea or coffee.
The people of Madagascar are very fond of croissants and make them with almost any filling.
Traditional stews for the island’s cuisine are made from the meat of zebu antelopes, which are bred on the island, like we have cows and pigs. It is stewed with tomatoes, corn, lemon juice, garlic, fresh herbs and other foods. Zebu fillets marinated in spices and fried on charcoal are so soft and juicy that they can compete in taste with the most exquisite dishes, although for an ordinary Malagasy it is an everyday food.
The local population uses pork, chicken and beef less often, but in restaurants tourists can always order dishes from these types of meat.
Meat stews are served with or without rice. In the latter case, the dish is complemented with tomatoes, cassava leaves and onions.
To prevent the meat from spoiling in hot climates, it is dried. Then the product is cut into long strips and served as a side dish with rice or corn.
In addition, jerky is a good snack for alcohol. This dish is called whale by the local population.
Rum can be called the pride of Madagascar. Here he can be found in any home, they are treated to the most dear guests.
The drink is infused with different berries, fruits and roots. Thanks to a special method of production, local craftsmen receive rum with a strength of 40% with an indescribable taste. You need to taste it with caution, as there is a risk of getting drunk ahead of time.
The most popular rum varieties on the island are kazenev (white) and dzama (dark). The Malagasy also produces an unrefined drink called Tuaka Gras, but it is not commercially available.
Among other types of alcohol, Madagascar boasts wines “Lichel” and “Trembu”. The former is made from the fruits of the tropical lychee tree, and the latter is made from coconuts.
Traditional island dishes
Malagasy cuisine has found a place for both traditional dishes, preserved from the time of the first settlers, and for exquisite delicacies that were previously served at the royal table.
Menakels in Madagascar are deep-fried crispy donuts made from rice flour. Their distinctive feature is the shape in the form of the letter “O”.
Menakeli are sold at wooden eateries throughout the country. Malagasy people eat them warm for breakfast, washed down with tea or coffee, and also take them to work for a snack at lunchtime.
This national dish of Madagascar is made from 3 types of meat: pork, chicken and zebu. They are cut into small pieces, mixed with mustard greens, paracress (local herb), tomatoes, yellow onions, garlic, ginger, spices, and then stewed until tender.
Rumazavu is served with rice, pre-sprinkled with sakai sauce on top.
Bambara peanut with pork
The Malagasy call this hearty meat dish voanjobori. It is a stew of pork tenderloin and African ground beans (bambar nuts), stewed with tomatoes, lemon juice, spices, herbs and fresh herbs.
Voanjobori is eaten with hot sauces, fresh vegetables, white or red rice.
All broths on the island are called ru. They are served as an addition to rice, meat, fish and vegetable side dishes. The main purpose of roux is to moisturize the main dish, improve its taste.
Broths in Madagascar are used as an addition to the main hot dish.
Depending on the ingredients used, Madagascar broths are divided into several types:
- Runaku is a decoction of whole chicken (with the head, limbs and all internal organs), seasoned with chopped ginger. Possesses regenerating and antiviral properties, due to which it is used for medicinal purposes.
- Rumangazaf – made from fatty beef or zebu, garlic and fresh tomatoes. Cook it until the meat becomes soft and the broth thickens. Rumangazaf is served with dry food.
- Rumatsats is a decoction of tomatoes and onions, to which green pineapples are added before the end of cooking. Light and aromatic broth goes well with meat dishes.
- Rumpaste – boiled from zebu (can be replaced with beef), dried shrimp, tubers and potato leaves. This broth promotes the production of breast milk, which is why it is often included in the diet of nursing mothers.
Chicken with ginger and garlic
Akoho is another common dish in Madagascar. To make it, the chicken thighs are rubbed with salt, ginger and garlic and then fried in coconut oil until brown or stewed in chicken broth.
To prepare amalona, the inhabitants of the island stew pork and eel in one pan. Garlic, tomatoes, onions, watercress and fern leaves are added to the dish.
This typical Malagasy dish is made with a large piece of zebu or beef fillet. The meat is first boiled together with onions and garlic, and then torn into fibers, spread on a baking sheet, sprinkled with spices and baked.
Zebu fillet is a staple ingredient in many meat dishes in Madagascar cuisine.
Torn meat looks unusual on a plate. It is served along with vegetable salad and unleavened rice.
After the main meal, Malagasy people like to pamper themselves with local fruits: guava, lychee, oranges, persimmons, tamarind, pineapples, mangoes, passionfruit and other exotic things. Sugarcane is also popular with the islanders, which they just chew when they want something sweet.
Children’s favorite treats are dried bananas, tamarind and peanut candy.
Other traditional Madagascar desserts include:
- Godrogodro is a gingerbread topped with coconut milk caramel sauce. The aroma of baked goods is given by nutmeg, vanilla, cloves and other spices.
- Coba acondro – rolls stuffed with chopped bananas, peanut butter, honey and cornmeal, wrapped in banana leaves. Before serving, the dessert is kept in a double boiler for some time so that it turns dark brown.
- Koba Dravina is a confection made with brown sugar, chopped peanuts and rice flour. The resulting mixture is wrapped in banana leaves and steamed until the sugar turns into caramel.
- Kaka piso – deep-fried oblong pieces of dough. From the Malagasy language, “cocoa piso” is translated as “pigeon droppings”, but this name should not scare tourists, since the delicacy is delicious and crunchy. It can be a good substitute for chips. In some regions of the country, the dessert is watered before using hot sauces.
- Mofo mangahazo is a pie made from crushed cassava, coconut milk, eggs, sugar and yeast. No flour is needed for him. The people of Madagascar bake this airy cake on holidays.
Island soft drinks
The most common non-alcoholic drink among Malagasy people is rannampang. It is prepared in every home by pouring boiling water over the saucepan in which the rice was cooked, and then allowing the water to cool. This rice infusion is drunk throughout the day instead of water.
The population of the eastern part of Madagascar is engaged in the cultivation of coffee beans, so coffee in the country is the second most popular drink after rannampang. Malagasy people consume it in the morning along with sugar or condensed milk.
In addition, the islanders drink weak black tea. They brew it with lemongrass and other aromatic herbs, add cinnamon and vanilla to it. And the people of Madagascar hold in high esteem fresh juices from tamarind, pineapple and other exotic fruits that this tropical island is rich in.