Madagascar common dishes photos – side dishes
A Malagasy meal usually includes a main dish with steamed rice, a side dish and a desert/fruits. We have published articles on main dishes and kinda did it for desert/fruits. This one is to show you what do Malagasy people have on the table aside from the omnipresent rice and its accompaniments.
Usually side dishes are made with fresh vegetables and vinaigrette sauce or lemon dressing. All year round, there are always vegetables in season in Madagascar. It goes from the usual lettuce, tomato, cucumbers, carrots and green beans, to more exotic vegetables like chayote and green leaves. Side dishes can be cooked or be raw depending on the ingredients available, the main dish, the tastes and the mood of the cook let’s say.
Side dishes made with green leaves are usually cooked except for young watercress. The latter is only washed and presented as a raw salad with vinegar or lemon dressing. The other green leaves are boiled in tons of water and the resulting dish is called “ro mazava” if salt is added or “ro matsatso” when it’s not salted.
“Ro mazava” litterally means clear broth so the name does speak for itself. When cooking the greens, the quantity of water added should make the broth look clear. Some people add tomato and onions to the broth to enhance the taste a little bit but the principle is to keep the broth clear and not concentrated nor oily.This type of side dish usually goes with fried food like steak, chicken, meatballs, fish, and so on. It can also compliment a rich tasting dish or a fatty meal like henakisoa or henomby ritra (pork or beef stew). Some people eat “ro mazava” as main dish accompanied with steamed rice the day after a party or basically when they feel their body needs cleansing.
“Ro matsatso” on the other hand litterally means bland tasting broth. It should not have any taste and the greens used to make it should also be tasteless. There are lots of options when it comes to choosing the greens to make “ro matsatso” and it could be developed in a whole different article. For now, we would just talk about sidedishes. “Ro matsatso” can accompany any kind of main dishes even the ones made with other green leaves. It is regularly confused with “ro mazava” but now you know the difference!
When you eat rice with both “ro mazava” and “ro matsatso”, you can pour the flavoured water directly in your plate to wet the dry rice. That makes the rice easier to “swallow” as they say.
Some green fruits are also used to create side dishes like green papaya or green mango which are the most popular ones among fruits. They can be julienned or grated. Vinaigrette sauce is then added with onions or tomatoes.