The Comoros, officially the Union of the Comoros, is a country situated at the northern end of the Mozambique Channel in the Indian Ocean. The islands are also known as “perfumed islands” for their sweet-smelling plant life and are known for their white sand beaches, beautiful seas and volcanic landscapes.
The majority of the population is ethnically Comorian, which is a mix of Bantu, Malagasy and Arab. Minorities include Makua and Indians (generally Ismailis).
Table of Contents
Most Popular Comorian Dishes
Fish such as cod and tuna, and crustaceans, like lobster and crab are used in several popular traditional soups and stews, frequently along with root crops including green bananas and cassava.
Some of the widely consumed dishes include roti ya houma pampa and m’tsolola. Over the last few decades, several French-inspired seafood delicacies (including langouste à la vanille, small lobsters in vanilla sauce) have also become popular, particularly in Mayotte.
Numerous dishes that include meats such as beef and chicken are also popular throughout the country. Many main dishes are typically accompanied by side dishes such as achard aux legumes (pickled lemon or green mango) and pilaou (rice pilaf).
Some of the most served desserts include ladu (cashew or rice balls with a little bit of black pepper), shihondro (caramelized peanut candy) and mkatra siniya (spice cake).
Here are the most popular traditional dishes of the Comoros along with recipes to try for yourself.
Mkatra foutra is a bread prepared using a beaten egg, sugar, flour, yeast, water, salt and coconut milk or cream. The use of coconut milk or cream in the dish is due to the lack of a dairy industry in the country. The dough is generally baked on a ghee-brushed griddle or pan, and traditionally, sesame seeds are added on top of the dough before baking.
The bread was introduced to the Comoros by Omani traders and immigrants. It is the staple bread of the Comoros, and mkatra foutra is often eaten with coconut-based curries, rougaille, or other relishes.
Inafliton lemai is a traditional snack that is typically prepared using only three basic ingredients: breadfruit, salt and coconut oil. First, the breadfruit is cleaned, peeled, and then thinly sliced. The breadfruit is later fried in coconut oil until it turns golden brown and becomes crunchy.
Finally, the slices are shifted onto the paper towels to drain extra oil. They’re then lightly salted. People serve it as it is or as an accompaniment to main dishes.
Le Me Tsolola
Le me tsolola is a simple stew prepared using fish and meat. The dish is typically made in coconut milk. Other ingredients added usually include green bananas, cubed beef, onions, oil, tomatoes, fish like mahi mahi and coconut milk. Several seasonings are also added to enhance the flavor.
To prepare the dish, the fish and meat are first fried in oil until they turn brown. They’re then added to the coconut milk with the other ingredients. It is gradually simmered for all the ingredients to become tender. Le me tsolola is usually accompanied with white rice.
Langouste a la Vanille
Langouste a la vanille is a delicacy prepared using South African lobsters and vanilla beans as the main ingredients. Other ingredients added to the dish include white wine, shallots, butter, vinegar, olive oil, vidalia onions, spinach and clover sprouts. This dish is known as the national dish of the Comoros.
When serving, the roasted meat is taken out of the claws and then transferred to a bed of greens, and the mixture is then topped with a little bit of vanilla sauce. It is usually accompanied by clover sprouts.
Mshakiki is a barbecued meat dish prepared using beef steak cubes. The process begins by marination of the meat. It is then skewered and grilled until it becomes tender and succulent. The marinade is generally made of garlic paste, chili powder, grated papaya, turmeric, oil, lemon juice, ginger paste, tomato paste and curry powder.
Mshakiki is served with grilled side dishes such as bananas, breadfruit and cassava. It is widely consumed all across East Africa, particularly in Kenya and Tanzania, and in several Middle Eastern countries like Yemen.
Pilaou is a rice dish made with a wide variety of vegetables and meat. The traditional recipe for this dish uses meat, however these days plant-based proteins such as chickpeas are often used to prepare a vegetarian friendly version.
For meat, people generally add beef, although other meats can also be used.
Pilaou is extremely aromatic and flavorful due to the use of many different spices such as garam masala, cinnamon and saffron. Pilaou normally uses basmati rice, which is basically a long grain aromatic rice, instead of white rice, which consists of less fibre and is a little less fragrant.
Ambrevades au Curry
Ambrevades au curry is a traditional dish prepared using pigeon peas. The chief ingredients added to this dish include ground cardamom, coconut milk, ground cumin, turmeric and tomatoes. It is generally accompanied by rice.
Ntrovi ya Nazi
Ntrovi ya nazi is a dish prepared using curry powder, plantains, cinnamon, cardamom, allspice, ground cloves, and coconut milk. The dish is prepared by properly combining all these ingredients and then cooking them on medium-low heat.