is synonymous with large portions and plenty of spice. The island
nation off the southeastern coast of Africa has produced excellent
cloves, black pepper and nutmeg, but it was the cultivation of vanilla
in the mid-19th century that secured the island's reputation as one of
the world's great spice centers. The food in Madagascar
incorporates all of these wonderful spices and is based around the
Malagasy cuisine, which is a style of cooking that reflects the
influences of Southeast Asian, African, Indian, Chinese and European
migrants that have settled in the country.
Rice is the main staple of the Malagasy diet and it is usually accompanied by some form of kabaka, which is a
protein dish such as fish, meat, chicken, or beans, as well as
vegetables, sauces and of course, some spicy seasonings. Other common
dishes include ro, which is beef and pork marinated in vinegar, water
and oil, then cooked with leaves, onion, pickles and other vegetables
and seasoned with pimento, and ravitoto, which is simply meat and leaves
Rice can also be accompanied by laoka,
which may be vegetarian or include a protein and is typically cooked in
sauce often flavored with ginger, onion, garlic, vanilla, curry powder.
Laoka recipes are diverse and may include such ingredients as bambara
peas with pork, beef or fish, shredded cassava leaves with peanuts, or
chicken sautéed with ginger and garlic or simmered in its own juices in a
preparation called ritra. In some parts of the island a side dish
is served and consists of green leafy vegetables in a seasoned broth.
Side dishes in Madagascar are generally served to add flavor and
complement the rice rather than provide nutrients, as the rice is the
main star of the show. Romazava is distinguished by its inclusion of
anamalao flowers, which produce a mild analgesic effect when the broth
Most Malagasy dishes are prepared in one of four
ways: fried, grilled, boiled in water, or cooked with coconut juice and a
spicy condiment known as lasary, which
is made of chili peppers, green mangos, or lemons, can be added to
enhance flavor. Food is generally prepared in a kitchen that is
physically separated from the main house for fire safety. Meals are
served in the house, on the veranda, or on mats placed on the ground
outside the house. Lunch and dinner leftovers are warmed for breakfast
the following morning. Breakfast consists of rice and a tea made of
local herbs or leaves and sweetened with sugar.
Some alternative breakfast foods include boiled manioc,
maize porridge, or fried cakes made of rice flour. Rice may also be
prepared with varying amounts of water to produce a fluffy rice used in a
soupy rice porridge called vary sosoa
that is often served as another breakfast choice. Beverages are limited
and water is the usual beverage served with meals. Rano ampango, or
water boiled in the rice cooking pot, is sometimes served, as well.
you're eating on the go, a variety of foods can be found in small
kiosks and restaurants throughout Madagascar, most notably a wide
selection of cakes and fritters known as mofo. The most common sweet
treat is known as "Malagasy bread"
and is made from a batter of sweetened rice flour that is poured into
greased circular molds and cooked over charcoal. Other sweet mofo fare
includes a deep-fried doughnut called menakely
and a doughnut hole called mofo baolina. If you're looking for a more
savory than sweet dish, try a fritter flavored with chopped greens,
onions, tomatoes and chilies called mofo sakay or "spicy bread." Perhaps
one of the most well-known sweet delicacies in Madagascar is the Koba akondro
that is made by wrapping a batter of ground peanuts, mashed bananas,
honey and corn flour in banana leaves and steaming or boiling the small
cakes until the batter has set. Other delicious fare found on the
streets of Madagascar include bonbon coco's or coconut balls that are
made with peanut brittle, dried bananas and tamarind paste rolled in
colored sugar, and a snack of deep-fried wonton-type dough called kaka pizon.
for producing some of the most superb vanilla and cocoa in the world,
it is not surprising that Madagascar has so many sweet confections.
Commonly called the "Vanilla Island," vanilla serves as a key ingredient
in many of the country's desserts. Dessert in Madagascar is usually
fruit flavored with vanilla, which sounds simple but with the number of
fruits available in the country, it can often be a delectable choice for
travelers. Temperate fruits found in Madagascar include apples, lemons,
pumpkins, watermelon, oranges, cherries and strawberries, in addition
to many tropical fruits like coconut, tamarind, mango, pineapple, passion fruit, loquats and guava.
If fruit isn't your thing, other desserts include koban-dravina,
a Malagasy specialty cake made by grinding together peanuts and brown
sugar and then wrapping in banana leaves to caramelize and bonbon coco, a
popular candy made from shredded coconut and cooked with caramelized
sugar. A firm, cake-like coconut milk pudding known as godro-godro is
also a popular dessert among locals and travelers alike.
you are in the mood for a little bit of spice and seasoning in a
traditional rice dish or have a sweet tooth and are looking for a bit of
flavor with infamous Madagascar vanilla, the island nation offers a wide variety of choices for all curious palates.