Madagascar is the biggest island on the African continent. Many know the country because Disney made it popular with the animated movie. However, beyond its beautiful scenery and landscapes, there are amazing foods in Madagascar you should try.
What Is Special About Madagascar Food?
Because this country leans more on the Indian Ocean than on mainland Africa, its gastronomy has been hugely influenced by countries like France (their colonial masters), Arabia, India, and China.
Ginger, garlic, chili, tomatoes, and onions are some of the staple ingredients in Madagascar cuisine. Also, being a tropical island country, there are exotic fruits and vegetables in Malagasy food. Rice is also commonly consumed on this island.
National Dish Of Madagascar
Romazava (Meat And Veggie Stew)
As the national dish of Madagascar, this special indulgence was once a specialty reserved for rulers only. Fortunately, now everyone can enjoy this delicacy.
Romazava is a traditional royal Madagascar food that serves as more of a stew. It comprises meat, different vegetables, ginger, onions, or garlic, which combine to give the dish a rather unique taste. Romazava is regularly enjoyed with vary maina (dried rice).
Traditional Madagascar Food – Main Dishes
Variety Of Rice
We know it sounds vague to say rice is the main food in Madagascar, but it has to be mentioned since people on this island eat rice at least three times a day. You can even say that rice is just slightly edged by romazava as the national dish of Madagascar, simply because it sounds rather uninteresting.
However, here is one interesting fact about Madagascar that you probably don’t know, the country ranks high as one of the biggest rice consumers in the world. They have different shades of white rice, red rice, and pink rice.
Malagasy people enjoy their rice with vegetable or meat dishes. People also eat their rice with tomatoes, carrots, and chili pepper. It’s easy to prepare rice as you only wash it with water and put it on fire to allow it to boil. The cook time determines the kind of rice you’d have.
Overcooked rice is termed Vary sosoa (rice soup), while normal boiled rice is known as vary maina (dried rice). Usually, Malagasy people eat vary sosoa for breakfast or dinner while they enjoy vary maina for lunch.
Vary Amin’anana (Rice And Green)
Vary amin’anana is a traditional food from Madagascar. Vary means “rice,” and anana means “green vegetables.” Vary amin’anana is a combo of rice with vegetables like collard green and other leafy greens like kale or Swiss chard.
The combination of these and other ingredients like onions, tomatoes, ginger, and oil make up this delicious Madagascar dish.
You can prepare this special Madagascar food in two ways. Either cook the rice and vegetables in the same pot from scratch or mix your vegetables with precooked rice. Chicken, mini shrimps, or eggs are all common pairing options.
Tsaramaso (White Beans)
Tsaramaso is a traditional Madagascar food made from white beans. It is prepared like cassoulet (slow-cooked stew from southern France). The dish is often served with zebu meat (cow meat) or pork.
This is one of the very distinct foods in Madagascar cuisine. The beans are simmered with meat and tomato sauce for a long time which makes the dish creamy. The ingredients combine to give a rich burst of flavor that suits the palette superbly. Locals love to enjoy tsaramaso with rice.
This Madagascar food is served in almost every restaurant across the country. And tsaramaso is considered the most consumed laoka (side dish) in Madagascar.
Hen’omby Ritra (Malagasy Braised Beef)
This special Malagasy braised beef dish takes a high spot in Madagascar cuisine. Hen’omby rita is a simmered beef delicacy prepared with water and salt as the main seasoning. Other ingredients for this dish include onions, garlic, ginger, and oil.
The goal is to have the meat almost melt in your mouth. Hence this food is cooked over low heat for a long time until the core softens. With all that effort, this Madagascar food is cherished across the country.
Hen’omby rita also has a traditional significance as it is a staple in traditional and family festivals in Madagascar.
Voanjobory (Bambara Pea)
This is another typical Madagascar food enjoyed throughout the island. Bambara pea can be cooked alone or with other complementary food like shank, sausages, or pork meat. The pork meat version is called Voanjobory sy hena-kisoa.
Rice and tomato rougali (tomato stew) are common options to enjoy alongside bambara peas. Malagasy people really know how to prepare their Bambara pea to give it that African delight feel.
Other Famous Madagascar Food
Ron’akoho (Whole Chicken Broth)
Ron’akoho, also called akoho rony, is a special dish from Madagascar cuisine. This dish is made from akoho gasy (local Malagasy chicken). By now, you’d have realized ginger is a staple spice in Madagascar foods.
Ron’akoho is easy to prepare. A whole chicken is cooked with crushed fresh ginger, vegetables, and salt for a couple of hours, and this dish is born.
This dish is especially special because they specifically use akoho gasy (local chicken) from Madagascar to make this dish. This hyper-local key ingredient not only contributes to the rich flavor but also gives that signature Malagasy authenticity.
Varenga (Crispy Shredded Beef)
Meat lovers, this is one special Madagascar food you will enjoy. Varenga is a traditional meat-based dish that originated in the country.
This delectable dish is made of finely chopped meat pieces mixed with salt, garlic, ginger, and onions. It’s cooked until it delivers a crispy crunch in the mouth. Top it off with that special spice combination, and this becomes a well-crafted dish any foodie will enjoy.
Be sure to give this a try! You can enjoy this dish served with rice and hot sauce to go with.
Ravitoto (Sweet Cassava Leaves Dish)
Ravitoto is a traditional Madagascar food made with sweet cassava leaves. These leaves are pounded with mortar and pestle; you can also use a blender.
Garlic, onions, oil, meat, prawn, dried fish, and Malagasy local seasoning are other staple ingredients in this dish. Spoiler, ravitoto’s appearance may not look appealing. But make no mistake; it’s tastier than it looks.
This is one of the most popular foods on the island. It’s delicious when you eat it with rice, and can even be addictive.
Trondro Gasy (Fish Dish)
This is another delicious food in Madagascar. Trondro gasy is a fish-based dish that originated from the highlands of Madagascar. This Malagasy food contains tomatoes, onions, oil, pepper, salt, ginger, garlic, watercress, curry powder, and the key ingredient – tilapia fish.
This dish is well garnished and has an appealing appearance, but it doesn’t stop at just the visuals. Beyond its looks, it has a taste that soothes the soul. Trondro gasy goes well with white rice (vary maina), and you can also enjoy it with vegetables.
Lasary Voatabia (Tomato Onion Salad)
Lasary voatabia is a tomato and onion salad that has become a staple in Madagascar food. This delicacy originated from this island country and has become a tourist favorite.
Lasary voatabia is made by combining chopped tomatoes, sliced onions, lime juice, ginger, black pepper, and hot sauce. After mixing all ingredients, put the mix in a fridge and allow it to chill.
They usually garnish the dish with coriander before serving. Lasary voatabia is enjoyed more as a side dish or toppings for sandwiches.
Madagascar Food – Snack, Light Dishes, And Street Food
Koba Ravina (Madagascar Rice Cake)
Koba ravina is a delicious Madagascar rice cake. This tasty Malagasy dessert got its name from the dough and leaves in which it’s wrapped with. Koba means “dough,” and ravina means “leaves.”
Koba ravina is made with rice flour, bananas, and peanuts. The mixture is wrapped in banana leaves and cooked with patience. Its flavor is enhanced by adding vanilla (a natural resource of the country).
Another incredible fact about Madagascar is that the country is the world’s largest producer of natural vanilla. Malagasy people enjoy koba ravina either as a snack or a dessert.
When you hear “tekateka”, what comes to mind first might be the different versions of music and dance videos on the internet.
Sorry to disappoint music lovers, but the Malagasy version of tekateka is actually a sumptuous fresh clam food enjoyed mostly on beaches across Madagascar.
This special Madagascar dish is enjoyed when eaten with vinaigrette sauce, which can be very spicy. Spoiler, it can be very addictive, but it’s worth the try. If you don’t like vinaigrette sauce, you can enjoy your clams with lime juice.
Mofo Gasy (Madagascar Pancakes)
This is a very popular street food in Madagascar. Mofo gasy is a bread made with a batter of sweetened rice flour. This batter is molded in circles before it is cooked over hot charcoal.
Malagasy people enjoy mofo gasy with tea or coffee for breakfast. In coastal regions in Madagascar, they have a different version. They use coconut milk and call it okay.
Mofo Baolina (Ball Doughnut)
This is a popular snack among Madagascar foods. Mofo baolina is a deep-fried ball dough. It’s made from dough formed with flour, milk, yeast, sugar, and eggs.
Malagasy people love fried foods, and if you are a fan too, Madagascar cuisine has got you covered. After frying, it takes on an appetizing, golden brown color.
Crispy on the outside but tender and soft on the inside. You can enjoy mofo baolina with sugar sprinkles on it or with syrup. It’s a snack sold on the streets and a typical breakfast of the Malagasy people.
Soups In Madagascar Food
Lasopy (Vegetable Puree Soup)
Although Madagascar is not famous for its soups, lasopy is one hearty traditional soup you have to try. It is made with vegetables like turnips, potatoes, carrots, tomatoes, green beans, and onions.
Lasopy is believed to originate from western Africa, but that doesn’t stop it from being a Malagasy delicacy. Vegetables are a staple food in Madagascar, and it is the people’s love for veggies that birthed lasopy. This dish is made with vegetables like turnips, potatoes, carrots, tomatoes, green beans, and onions.
For flavor, the vegetables are allowed to cook in a pot with meat bones. Once it’s tender, local seasonings are added to give it that Malagasy taste. If you are a fan of vegetables, then this is a must-try food in Madagascar.
Ranon’ampango (Gold Water)
Ranon’ampango is considered the poster boy of all beverages in Madagascar. This is a popular traditional Madagascar drink or soup, depending on how you see it. However, one thing is for sure, Malagasy people consider it a part of their cuisine.
This innovative drink was born out of necessity. Access to drinking water in some regions of the country is a challenge for Malagasy people. Instead of quenching their thirst with water, many resorts to this beverage.
This drink is made after cooking rice. Thin layers of burnt rice are left intentionally in the pot so that water can be heated in the same pot. It can be consumed either hot or cold.
You can have golden or white raon’ampango, depending on how long the rice is cooked. This is an economical way of staying hydrated in Madagascar.
Sweets, Desserts, And Pastries In Madagascar Food
Bonbon Coco (Coconut Bonbon)
This delicious candy is one of many Madagascar foods that originated in the country. It is a sweet loved by old and young alike.
Bonbon coco is made from grated coconut, water, sugar, and a pinch of salt. Some shops add vanilla for enhanced taste. The mixture is cooked over medium heat until it the water evaporates to create a thick and sticky candy.
The candy can be molded into any shape, but Malagasy people love their bonbon coco in balls.
Bonbon Tamarind (Tamarind Sweet)
One of the oldest Madagascar foods, Bonbon tamarind is a ball-shaped sweet made from tamarind. This is a product of the French colonial era of this island country.
It’s safe to say bonbon tamarind has lasted the taste of time. You can also get this sweet in France and many Caribbean countries. Bonbon tamarinds are sharp and sour; it’s interesting how this sweet is made from only two ingredients tamarind and sugar.
You can find this sweet sold on the streets of Madagascar and packaged in malls. So you can even bring some home if you like it.
Koba Akondro (Malagasy Sweet)
Koba akondro is a special sweet in the country; many consider this the national dessert of Madagascar. Considering Madagascar is one of the biggest consumers of rice in the world, it’s no surprise many of their food is laced with rice in one form or another.
Koba akondro is a soft, steamed cake made from peanuts, bananas, honey, and corn flour. These ingredients are mixed well to form a batter wrapped in banana leaves. It is then steamed or boiled until it solidifies.
When you visit any Malagasy homes, it’s probably the first food you’d be offered as it has become a part of the culture. It’s a welcome back home treat to take for friends and family.
You can also find it everywhere, from street vendors to gas stations and marketplaces.
Godrogodro (Rice Flour Cake)
Another sumptuous Malagasy dessert, Godrogodro is a special rice flour cake originating from the country. This cake has different variations, but it is typically made of rice flour, nutmeg, cinnamon, vanilla, coconut milk, oil, and sugar.
This dessert has an attractive appearance, and it’s also fluffy. It’s one of many Madagascar foods with a good blend of rich flavor and good taste. Godrogodro is best enjoyed with fruit juice or a warm cup of tea.
Salady Voankazo (Malagasy Fruit Salad)
Salady voankanzo is a cherished food in Madagascar that taps into the blessings of the island. This fruit salad is a popular dessert and after-meal treat. There is no fixed fruit for this salad as it is season dependent.
Bananas, pineapples, strawberries, and mangoes are some of the most common fruits used for this salad. The fruits are finely sliced and flavored with vanilla extract and simple sugar. If you love fruits like us, this is the way to go when cooling off on the beaches in Madagascar.
Kida Amin’ny Voanio (Bananas In Coconut Milk)
Kida amin’ny voanio is a special Madagascar dish made of bananas and coconut milk. This special dessert is well-loved in the count not only for its taste and flavor but also for its nutritional benefits.
The main ingredients of this dessert include coconut milk, green bananas or plantains, vanilla, brown sugar, cloves, salt, cardamom, and cinnamon. Bananas are chopped and cooked in coconut milk with spices and condiments to create this delish goodness.
How often do you get a dessert that offers you the richness of coconut milk and the sumptuousness of bananas on the same plate? Kida amin’ny voanio is usually enjoyed as breakfast or a good laoka (side dish) for rice.
FLAVORS AROUND THE WORLD
Discovering Traditional Madagascar Food
Madagascar is a fascinating country to visit. Beyond amazing beaches and entertaining cultures, there are amazing foods deeply rooted in Madagascar cuisine.
Although Malagasy people take their veggies seriously, you will find plenty of options if you’re a meat lover. When you think of Madagascar cuisine, there are limitless choices on offer.