Madagascar: A Food Guide

Madagascar, fourth-largest island in the world is famous for its diverse culinary traditions. Malagasy food is influenced by France via its colonial history, Austronesia like Indonesia and Malaysia, East Asia, the Middle East, and the Bantu countries of East Africa through centuries of migration and trading. Terraced rice fields, spices like vanilla and pepper, roots and tubers make some of these mouth-watering dishes.

Zebu is a local breed of humped cow which is tender and served as a fillet, grilled over brochettes or skewers.

Romazava is an over-the-top national beef dish that may feature other meat as well. The meat is cooked for hours in tomato sauce, garlic, ginger, and stewed mixed greens till it becomes tender.

Ravitoto is a simple vegetarian dish made from dark-green spinach-like green manioc leaves mixed with coconut milk and some spices. There is a non-veg substitute with pork as well.

Tilapia à la Malagasy is a fish cooked in the “Malagasy-style” in a sauce made from tomatoes, green watercress, onions, garlic, ginger, and other herbs and flavours.

Laoka is a vegetarian side dish traditionally served with rice and may have meat or fish, sauced, or stewed with flavour staples such as tomato, ginger, turmeric, garlic, onion, or even vanilla.

Lasary, meaning vegetables, is a pickled vegetable or mixed sautéed vegetable dish served with rice. It has another version like a tomato salsa dashed with chopped parsley called Lasary Voatabia.

Beans, mixed white, or lima beans are on every menu in Madagascar and are often served simmered soft and savoury and alongside a vegetable.

Minsao is a mix of Chinese and Malagasy found on most restaurant menus in Madagascar. This vegetarian dish is made of ramen noodles stir-fried with vegetables, or with beef, pork, or chicken.

Achard, commonly known as achar, a famous Indian and Pakistani pickle. This Madagascar-style pickle features green mango or vegetables, marinated in a blend of spices. You will often see it alongside main dishes in the north-western parts of Madagascar.

Sakay is a spicy sauce typically made with orange-hued chilli-ginger-garlic.

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