Food in Madagascar is influenced by a blend of French, Chinese, Indian, and local cultures. The combination creates mouth-watering Malagasy cuisine. When you visit Madagascar, one word you’ll come across is Romazava. Pronounced as “Roo mah Zah vah,” this food’s popularity makes it Madagascar’s national dish. It is a one-pot meal usually served for lunch and supper.
What Is Romazava?
Romazava is the national dish of Madagascar. It is a stew made from a mixture of meat and leafy greens, but vegetarian versions are made for those who can’t afford meat. Each family in Madagascar makes its own version of Romazava. The ingredients used in Romazava can vary according to availability and preference.
Has Romazava already aroused your interest? You can read all about delicious meals from Madagascar here. In this book, you will see what other culinary adventures the country has to offer.
This article covers everything you need to know about Romazava. I have described what Romazava is and what the dish consists of. Also, I have explained how to prepare and how to eat Romazava in the Malagasy way. Lastly, find out a few alternatives to Romazava that you can enjoy in the country.
What Is Romazava Made Of?
Romazava is made of meat, leafy vegetables, and a variety of spices. The most common meat in Romazava is Zebu. However, the type of meat can vary from chicken, pork, beef, fish, and seafood. Traditionally, the leafy greens used include paracress, anamamy, and mustard greens. With time, these vegetables have become harder to find leading to the use of arugula and spinach as alternatives.
I like the fact that this cuisine is adaptable to a variety of ingredients and budgets. This way, anybody can enjoy their own version.
How do you eat Romazava?
The most common way to eat Romazava is with rice. You can complement your meal with a spicy sauce called Malagasy Sakay. It contains chili, garlic, and ginger. If you want a lighter meal, you can eat your Romazava alone with more soup. Just add more water when preparing to make it soupy.
Interesting Fact: This traditional dish Romazava dates back to the late 1700s and early 1800s. It has been a favorite of the people of Madagascar for generations since then. This cuisine is most common in the highlands of Betsileo, Merina, and Sihanaka tribes.
Where to Eat Romazava in Madagascar
Now that you already know what Romazava is, do you want to try it? Being such a popular dish, you don’t have to try so hard to get Romazava in Madagascar.
Are you social? If you get an invitation to visit any home on the island, the chances are that you will get a good serving of Romazava. This is an excellent opportunity to interact with the locals over a meal that they cherish. If you are lucky, the Malagasy people can even show you how to prepare and how to eat Romazava.
Another place to find this delicious dish is in restaurants across the country. There are numerous authentic restaurants on the island where you can order Romazava. Major restaurants serve three-course meals or daily specials where Romazava is prominent.
Want to try Romazava on the go? Hit the streets of Madagascar, and you will find varieties of food. Even better, street food is cheaper than food in restaurants. The local markets also have different types of Romazava at lower prices.
How to Prepare Romazava the Malagasy Way
Do you like trying new recipes? Romazava is one stew that you can make and enjoy in your own home. As I said, you can have varieties of the dish based on available ingredients.
I have chosen one recipe to try with different types of meat and vegetables to make it more exciting. If you lack one or two of the ingredients, it is still Romazava. After all, the recipe is not cast in stone!
To make a perfect Romazava, though, the meat needs to cook to perfection. Here we go:
- Cubed beef chunks-you can also use other meat types like pork, chicken, mutton, or seafood.
- 2-3 teaspoons of Olive Oil (or Vegetable Oil). If you use olive oil, extra virgin oil is highly recommended. It is nutritious and can reduce the risk of a host of diseases, according to Olive Wellness Institute.
- Salt to taste.
- 5-7 garlic cloves minced.
- 1 1/2 inch of ginger (peeled and minced). Whenever I cook, I like using fresh ginger. It comes with more flavor and taste compared to the ground version.
- 3 serrano chilies minced.
- 1 bunch of mustard greens (or kale).
- 1 bunch of arugula (or spinach).
- 1 chopped onion.
- 6 tomatoes diced.
- 1-2 cups of water.
How to Prepare
- Heat olive oil in a large deep oven pot. Add half of your ginger and garlic and salt. Let it simmer for about 5 minutes.
- Add the meat to the pot. Cook it until it turns brown on all sides to make it tender.
- Stir the diced tomatoes into the meat.
- Add the chili peppers, onion, and the remaining garlic and ginger into the pot. Let the ingredients simmer until the mixture starts boiling.
- Add a cup of water and let this mixture boil for a few minutes then reduce the heat to let it simmer.
- Add your greens to the pot. Place the lid on the pot and allow them to simmer into the stew for about 5-10 minutes.
- Season the stew with salt and pepper.
- Stir the ingredients together and then turn off the heat.
- Serve your Romazava.
Would you rather watch a video of a Romazava recipe? Watch the YouTube video below to learn how to make a great Romazava stew.
Romazava Alternatives in Madagascar
If you are already in Madagascar, you might as well try some other dishes besides Romazava. On this note, you will be happy to know that you can never run out of options for foods to eat in Madagascar. So, what other alternatives do you have?
Given that Madagascar is an island, seafood is prominent on the menu. The same case applies to food in Mauritius, another Indian Ocean island. I also like that prices are so low that you can enjoy various seafood, even with a tight budget.
You’ll get lots of fresh seafood, including fish, prawns, lobsters, crayfish, and oysters. On this island, seafood is served fried or grilled. A coconut curry sauce (sauce coco) or Madagascar peppercorn sauce may go with the food.
Peppercorn sauce is one of Madagascar’s best sauces. If you want to make your own, you can buy Madagascar Green Peppercorn. Next, you need garlic, butter, cream, and a little brandy, and you are good to go.
The best place to eat seafood is along beach roads and stalls located near the beach.
Vegetarian and Vegan Dishes
Are you a vegetarian or a vegan? Well, Madagascar caters even to tourists on a special diet. If you love eggs, any restaurant can whip an egg for you in a matter of a few minutes. As for Romazava, there is a vegetarian version prepared with greens only. Plant-based proteins like beans and lentils are, however, harder to find in Madagascar.
Snacks & Munchies
When you first land in Madagascar, one thing you’ll notice is the variety of snacks sold on the streets. Savory snacks include doughnuts (mofo menakely), samosas, and kebabs, better known as “masikita”
Shops that sell pastries and cakes are ubiquitous in towns. Here you can also buy croissants, meringues, and Baguettes.
Another typical snack sold on the roadsides is Koba. It resembles a log-like cake, made from a concoction of ground peanuts, sugar, and rice flour. This mixture is wrapped in banana leaves, baked, then sold in slices.
Zebu is a type of beef from a cattle breed known as Zebu. This is the festive food in Madagascar. Preparation is similar to the European cattle beef. On this island, zebu meat is common in stews, steak, and kebabs. I also mentioned earlier that Zebu is the most common meat used to prepare Romazava.
Like in America and Europe, pizza is also a favorite in Madagascar. You’ll come across major pizza joints with takeaway services in all major towns and cities.
This cuisine is a blend of Malagasy and the French influence made from local ingredients. Among the favorites of this cuisine include zebu steak mixed with pepper sauce and fries. You can also have sautéed potatoes in a peppercorn sauce and roast chicken with mashed potatoes.
Desserts are equally delicious. They include chocolate cakes, crepes, local fruit jams, sorbets, ice cream, and vanilla custard. Gourmet cuisine is available anywhere across Madagascar in many restaurants. It’s a major highlight for many tourists who visit this island.
Sampling a country’s cuisine is one great way to learn more about a country’s culture. For the Indian Ocean Island, Madagascar, eating the national dish, Romazava, is the way to go. If you like Romazava, there’s nothing to stop you from making your own right at home.
In Madagascar, you eat Romazava with rice. Still, who’s to say that you cannot devise your ways on how to eat Romazava?