A typical malagasy meal
All meals in Madagascar, and even everyday’s life, generally revolves around the rice, the main food. A typical malagasy meal would bea plate of steamed rice with an accompaniment called laoka ou kabaka.
There may be other accompaniments like fresh tomato salad named rougail or locally called “lasary voatabia”. There could be a salad of carrot, cabbage, lettuce or radishes. There is also the ro matsatso – litteraly savorless broth – to wet the rice so that it can be more easily swalowed. There can also be fresh chilli, crushed or in brine with spices depending on the house’s specialty : onions, chives, black pepper or red, etc. The dessert would generally be fresh tropical fruits, whole or cut, sometimes mixed with sugar and a little lemon juice for a fruit salad. At times, local coarsed coffee would complete the meal.
Meal times are usually at 6:00 AM for breakfast, noon for lunch and 6:00 PM for dinner. It can vary according to the schedules of each family since usually, the children’s school starts at 7:00 AM and ends at 4:30 PM or 5:00 PM. Rural workers leave for field works at 5:00 AM or 6:00 AM so they will eat earlier.
Ranonampango, a burned rice beverage is usually served to go with the meal. To prepare ranonampango, take the steamed rice out of the cooking pot. Then heat the same pot until the sticking rice left litterally burns. When the rice turns dark brown, add some cold water to fill the pot. The water will then get the same brown color. Boil or just warm to taste. Then separate the water and burned rice. The beverage will be the famous ranonampango!
The burned rice would be the varinampango that will be re-cooked until tender. The latter will serves as a snack in the afternoon. It is generally eaten seasoned with a little sugar or honey, or with the rest of the laoka lunch. Varinampango is a popular dish among children and even adults.
Kitchen equipments used by the average Malagasy are as simple as the cooking. It usually includes pots, sotrobe – big wood serving spoons – a stove, “fatapera” – a portable stove using charcoal. These articles are mostly locally produced but the opening of trade with China and other countries is changing everything. It is now increasingly common in the city for average families to have an electrical rice cooker, high pressure cookers, electrical deep fryers etc.. Wood fire cooking is still widely used especially in rural areas, and gives a unique flavor to the food. The experts will tell you!
The particularity of the Malagasy cooking is that the food is used fresh and are rarely processed before cooking. Every good Malagasy cook will try as much as possible to preserve the natural flavor of each ingredient by using wisely the spices that go well with each dish. The most used spices and accessiblefor Malagasy are onions, pepper, garlic and ginger.
The Malagasy cuisine, as the Malagasy language, reflects the diversity of the Malagasy people origins including the influence African, Arab, European, or Indonesian. You’ll find local variations depending on the ingredients available and dominant cultural influence.
The traditional dish varies between regions and local productions. We can say though that the most popular throughout the country is the henomby ritra or literally beef stew. Malagasy meat has generally less fat than in Western countries and are mostly organic. There could have slight variation in the henomby ritra preparation. Below, you have the pulled recipe version called varanga.
Beef stew cubes 1kg
200ml water or just enough to cook the meat
4 tablespoon of vegetable oil
4 small onions
1 clove garlic
Salt and pepper
Put the meat in a saucepan and cover with water. Salt and simmer over medium heat until complete evaporation of the water.
Remove the meat from the pan and shred with two forks. Replace the pan on the heat and add the oil. Cut the onions and sauté in heated oil. Add mashed garlic. Return shredded meat into the pan with onions and garlic. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper to taste. Cook 5 minutes, stirring from time to time and it is ready! Serve hot with white rice and rougail.
The Ron’akoho is also something you should definitely try. Ron’akoho is actually a chicken broth seasoned with ginger. What is special with this recipe that it is made with local chicken called akoho gasy – literally Malagasy chicken . This is a very simple dish to prepare because you just boil the chicken previously salted in a saucepan for about 45 minutes. And at the end of cooking or when the meat is tender, add ginger to taste.
Where to eat THE typical meal?
The best place to have a good meal at a lower price is a hotely – a local restaurant. A Resto gasy or street vendor – Malagasy restaurant – are also a good budget plan to taste traditional dishes. Be vigilent on the hygiene of the establishment where you eat. If customers you see there are clean and correct, it is a good sign!
Mazotoa homana! – Enjoy!