Madagascar is the world’s second-largest island country and is located in the Indian Ocean. It is situated about 400 kilometres off the coast of East Africa, across the Mozambique Channel. The country is famous for its lemurs, chameleons, beautiful orchids, and baobab trees. It is known to have some of the world’s most exceptional flora and fauna.
Madagascar is mainly inhabited by people largely classified as belonging to the Malagasy ethno-linguistic group. This group is further divided into numerous different ethnic groups. Malagasy cuisine includes the several diverse culinary traditions of the Indian Ocean islands of the country.
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Most Popular Malagasy Dishes
Dishes consumed in Madagascar are hugely influenced by the Southeast Asian, African, Oceanian, Indian, Chinese and European migrants that have made the island their home since it was first inhabited by seafarers from Borneo between 100 CE and 500 CE.
Rice is considered to be the staple food of the Malagasy people. Other widely consumed foods include sweet and savory fritters, locally prepared drinks such as fruit juices, coffee, herbal teas and several alcoholic drinks including rum, wine and beer.
The wide variety of dishes consumed in Madagascar truly reflects the island’s history and the country’s diversity. Here is a list of some of the most widely consumed traditional dishes in Madagascar along with recipes for you to try for yourself.
Vary Amin’anana is dish consisting of a mixture of rice and green vegetables, generally consumed for breakfast and dinner. It is frequently accompanied by chicken, meat, eggs or mini shrimp, also known as chevaquines.
Originally, “vary” refers to rice and “anana” refers to green vegetables, such as cress. This dish can be prepared in two ways: by cooking the rice along with the vegetables or by using already prepared rice.
Ranon’ampango is the most popular beverage in Madagascar and is prepared after cooking rice. A thin sheet of burnt rice is left at the bottom of the vessel and heated with water. This Malagasy beverage can be consumed both hot or cold.
This drink is known to have some curative properties as is believed by many people in the country. This Malagasy delicacy is also considered to be the most economical way to keep oneself hydrated in regions of the island where drinking water is rarely available. Based on the amount of time the rice was cooked, one can have white or brown ranon’ampango.
Akoho Rony, also known as ron’akoho, is a broth prepared using a local species of chicken, the akoho gasy. To make this dish, a whole chicken is taken and cooked for some hours along with crushed ginger. Several vegetables and salt are also added to the dish a few minutes before the cooking process comes to an end. The dish is usually consumed extremely hot along with rice.
One can easily find akoho rony in almost all the convenience stores on the island.
Malagasy people are known to consume rice three times a day, throughout the year. They are considered to be one of the biggest consumers of rice in the world. One can find rice in many different colors such as red, white or pink. It is generally accompanied by a vegetable or meat dish. Occasionally, tomato or carrot rougail is also included in the dish. Some people also tend to eat rice with chilli peppers.
Locals generally prepare either a rice soup (also known as vary sosoa) or dried rice (also known as vary maina). However, people often consume both but at different times of the day. Rice soup is normally served as breakfast and dinner, while dried rice is served for lunch.
Hen’omby ritra is a type of beef simmered using a Malagasy method. It is consumed as a side dish (also known as laoka) to go with rice. Hen’omby ritra is based on zebu, which is prepared in water with salt as the only seasoning. According to Madagascan tradition the cooking of Hen’omby ritra takes 48 hours.
This dish is extremely cherished by households across the country. It is also considered to be one of the seven royal dishes, or tatao. Hen’omby ritra is generally served during the traditional or family festivities of the country.
Beans or Tsaramaso
White beans are prepared like cassoulet and frequently served along with zebu meat (hen’omby sy tsaramaso) or pork (tsaramaso sy henakisoa) in the Red Island. To make it, the beans are first simmered with the meat for some hours with water. When the prepared combination turns tender and creamy, tomato sauce is added. It is then consumed with hot rice. The dish is typically accompanied by the shank.
One can find this dish being served in almost all the restaurants in the country. Beans are considered to be one of the most widely consumed laoka among the locals of the island.
Henakisoa Sy Amalona
Henakisoa sy amalona, also known as “pork with eel” is a typical Malagasy delicacy that is part of the seven royal dishes. Although this dish is very easy to make, it is not totally accepted on the island.
The reason for this is that pork consumption is prohibited in some cultures, and the combination of pork and fish is not considered very common in others. But this does not stop this dish from being considered as one of the most admired dishes consumed to honour famous guests during traditional festivities in the highlands.
Achard is a kind of vegetable pickle prepared using various different kinds of fruits and vegetables. To make it, people choose fruits or vegetables according to their preference and then finely chop all the ingredients. Next, the ingredients are macerated in vinegar and several spices are added to increase the taste of the dish.
Fruits and vegetables used to prepare this dish include green mangoes, plums, cabbage, carrots, beans, tomatoes, peppers etc.
Lechón is quite simply a whole pig cooked on a spit roast. It is most commonly associated with the Philippines but it is also eaten in many former Spanish colonies as well as Madagascar.
It is often served at festivities and can take anywhere between 2.5 hours and 6 hours to cook. The end result is a wonderfully crispy exterior with soft meat on the inside.