Vary, or rice, is the most important ingredient in any Malagasy meal. It is the staple of most of the dishes, and is even the key ingredient in ranonapango, a traditional beverage that accompanies most meals and many ceremonies (see recipe below). By some estimates, each person in Madagascar consumes about 140 kilograms of rice a year – most of it homegrown. The majority of meals are some combination of rice, meats, dressings, and vegetables.
Fruit is another staple of the diet and is quite abundant on the island. Lychees, mangoes, bananas, pineapples, avocados, and coconuts are just a few examples. Salady Voankazo, a fruit compote incorporating many of these fruits and lychee nuts, is a popular and flavorful treat.
Since Madagascar is an island, fish and fishing are a central part life in Madagascar. Many salads and rice dishes feature fish and seafood.
Try your hand at Malagasy cooking with these recipes:
This mixed-meat stew with greens is the national dish of Madagascar. The key to a perfect romazava is to ensure the various meats are cooked to perfection at the exact same time.
2 teaspoons of cooking oil (peanut or vegetable)
1 pound of beef (cubed)
1 pound of pork
2-3 chicken breasts
1 onion (chopped)
7 garlic cloves
½ pound of spinach
Heat the oil and first add the beef. Cook until the beef is seared then add water, cover, and simmer for 25-30 minutes. Add the pork and cook for 30 minutes. Then, add the chicken and cook for 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes until reduced into a sauce then add the onions and garlic. After another 10 minutes, add the spinach, salt, and pepper and cook for a few minutes before removing from heat.
Of course, you will serve the romazava with a heaping portion of rice.
Lasopy is a rich vegetable stew flavored with various meat bones. Any combination of vegetables and meat bones will do, depending on the particular tastes of your family.
3 pounds of assorted meat bones
2-3 pounds of assorted vegetables
Simmer 3 pounds of meat bones in 2 quarts of water for one hour. Add any combination of vegetables and simmer for another hour (add salt to taste). Remove the bones and strain the stew into a puree and serve hot.
After cooking rice, some grains are left in the bottom of the pot. Cook the rice until it begins to burn. Then, add boiling water to the charred rice to absorb its flavor. Remove the water, strain and serve cool as a drink to accompany any meal or special occasion.
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