Are you thinking about visiting Madagascar? You’ll be happy to know that this island is famous for its lip-smacking cuisines. Food in Madagascar reflects the country’s cultural diversity. It originates from French, Chinese, and Indian influences blended with local eating traditions. The cultures have resulted in cuisine that delights everyone who visits the island.
What do people in Madagascar eat?
The Malagasy people mainly eat rice and spicy stews made of vegetables, seafood, and meat. Common spices in Malagasy cuisine include onions, garlic, ginger, vanilla, turmeric, and pepper.
Did you know that Madagascar’s black pepper is among the finest and most aromatic in the world? You can get some black peppercorns and try them with your favorite dishes.
In this article, I have featured the best food in Madagascar. I have covered in detail the most popular foods for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. If you are a vegetarian, I have included some dishes that you can try.
Also, find out what you can drink in Madagascar and how much you should prepare to spend on a meal.
What Is the Best Food in Madagascar?
The best food in Madagascar comes in a variety of tasty dishes. Based on your food preferences, there are traditional dishes, vegetarian dishes, snacks, and drinks to enjoy. The ideal meal also depends on the time of the day, ranging from breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
For more insight into the best Malagasy cuisine, I have broken down the foods into categories:
How Much Is a Meal in Madagascar?
The average cost of a meal is $4-$5, depending on what and where you eat. Street food and food from the local markets go for $1-$2 and are significantly cheaper than food in restaurants and resorts. Snacks are a bit cheaper, costing between $0.5 and $1 each.
What Is a Typical Lunch in Madagascar?
Typical lunch in Madagascar contains a dish of meat and greens, served with a large portion of rice. The meat can be zebu, pork, poultry, or seafood, with spices and sauces being a big part of the lunch. Depending on where you eat, you can also order a dessert.
Did you know that you can have dessert every day without affecting your health? According to Global News, daily dessert is okay. However, you should keep portion size, timing, and what you are eating in check.
What Is a Typical Dinner in Madagascar
Similar to lunch, rice is a crucial component in a typical dinner in Madagascar. It goes well with romazava or other meat dishes made of zebu, pork, poultry, or seafood. You can complement the meal with spices and sauces according to your preference.
Below, I have highlighted the most common dishes in a typical Malagasy lunch or dinner:
Romazava is Madagascar’s national dish. It comprises a meat stew, which can be pork, chicken, beef, or seafood. This stew is then mixed with green vegetables and seasoned with spices or sauces.
Romazava is usually served with rice. You can buy Romazava from local eateries, streets, markets, and restaurants in Madagascar.
Are you a meat lover? You’ll love the tasty and tender nature of Zebu. Zebu is a local breed of humped cows found everywhere across the island of Madagascar.
Zebu is slaughtered during important festivals and events. It is the most common meat used to make Romazava. You can have Zebu grilled or stewed in most Malagasy dishes.
This name suggests a very complicated dish, but it is just mashed cassava leaves. It’s dark green in color and spinach-like in texture. This cuisine is a perfect alternative if you are a vegetarian. It is tastier when served with coconut milk and a little spice.
Traditionally, Ravitoto is cooked with meat, fried beef being the preferred option. Meat makes ravitoto tastier and eliminates the mildly bitter taste of cassava leaves. If you love this dish, you can eat it in restaurants or in the streets of Madagascar.
In Madagascar, Laoka is typically a name given to any dish or accompaniment served with rice. As such, laoka is available in varieties that suit both vegetarians and non-vegetarians. I’d advise you to first enquire about the ingredients before placing an order.
That said, ingredients used for Laoka also vary. Yams, seafood, groundnuts, peanuts, local greens, cassava leaves, maize, and sweet potatoes are common. Coconut milk or tomato-based sauces compliment the dish.
Madagascar being an island, you definitely shouldn’t leave without tasting their seafood. When you get to the coastal region, you can be sure that their seafood is a fresh catch of the day. You can also have lots of seafood at cheaper prices since it is locally available.
Rice in Madagascar
Rice is common on this island. When you order food in most restaurants, you can be sure that rice covers the largest portion of your plate. And by the time you leave, you should have tasted most or all kinds of rice locally grown in the country. The locals consume rice more than three times daily. Want to try some Madagascan Pink Rice grown in Madagascar? You can buy it and try it right at home.
Are you interested in learning more about Malagasy food? Watch the video below to learn how to make a traditional Malagasy meal in a Madagascan kitchen.
What Is a Typical Breakfast in Madagascar?
Mofo, which means bread, is prominent in a typical breakfast in Madagascar. Mofo gasy or Malagasy bread is the most popular. It is generally eaten with coffee, tea, juice, fruit serve, or maple syrup. It’s made from flour, yeast, water, ice cream, and sugar. In the coastal areas of Madagascar, coconut milk is common in the ingredients.
I have outlined other foods and snacks served for breakfast and dessert in Madagascar:
Mofo and Mofo Anana
These are just bread fritters with added spices and greens. You’ll also find them served with pumpkin beignet fritters. These snacks come in varieties depending on the place you eat. You can find the snacks in markets, street stalls, restaurants, and hotels.
You can best classify Koba Akondro as a dessert. It is a dense steamed cake with peanut, rice flour, bananas, and sweeteners. As a tip, you should eat Koba Akondro while it is still hot.
Mofo Akondro is a deep-fried banana or banana bread. It is perfect for breakfast or dessert. To make it, ripe bananas are dipped in sticky dough and then they are deep-fried. You can buy Mofo Akondro from restaurants or along the street vendor machines. Like Koba Akondro, eat Mofo Akondro while it’s hot; that’s when it is tastier.
Coffee and Tea
These drinks are usually part of breakfast. The local coffee is sweet with a pleasant smell, especially if it is roasted. Most of the time, you will be served tea in tea bags when you order from hotels and restaurants.
The Best Food in Madagascar for Vegetarians
Can you already tell from the name that Minsao comes from a Chinese-Malagasy fusion? You’ll find this dish on most menus in different parts of Madagascar. It consists of stir-fried ramen noodles and vegetables. For a non-vegetarian version, you can have it cooked with pork, chicken, or beef.
In Madagascar, you will often come across a bean dish. This is a mixture of white beans, and Madagascar lima beans simmered soft. As a tip, place an order with beans as a side dish mixed with some vegetables, instead of just a plateful of beans.
Lasary is what you would call onion and tomato salad in other countries. With Madagascar, though, their food is often spicier and richer. Lasary consists of cabbage, vinaigrette, onions, ginger, green beans, carrots, and hot sauce.
This salad often comes as a side dish with rice, Romazava, or other meat dishes. Still, you can always request it from the kitchen regardless of the meal you are taking. Another great way to use lasary is as a topping for sandwiches.
What Do People Drink in Madagascar?
In Madagascar, the locals drink water, soft drinks, and alcoholic drinks. For Hot beverages, coffee and tea are the most common. The most popular health drink is the water of rice, also know as Ranonapango. The island also offers wines, beers, rums, and liquors that you can drink to your satisfaction.
Note: Unlike the neighboring island of Mauritius, tap water in Madagascar is not safe for drinking. As such, it is safer always to drink bottled, filtered, boiled, or treated water.
What good could come out of a burnt rice pot? In Madagascar, boiling water in the burnt pot results in a golden-colored liquid called Ranonapango or Ranovola. This drink is believed to have health benefits. Besides being rich in electrolytes, it fights dehydration and provides anti-diarrheal benefits.
According to Wikipedia, burned or scorched rice is a delicacy in other countries too. The enthusiasts consume it for its pleasant taste and medicinal properties.
Known as THB (Three Horses Beer), this is a lager you can buy anywhere across this island. Want to sound like the locals? Pronounce it as “Tay-Ash-Bay” when ordering it. It’s sold in large 650ml bottles.
In most restaurants and bars you visit while in Madagascar, you’ll find bottles and jugs of rum lined up for sale. Rum is cheaper, but it’s quite potent. Dzama Rhum is the most popular. It is a favorite of both the Malagasy people and rum lovers from all over the world.
Now that you know the food to expect in Madagascar, I’ll answer one last question:
If you had doubts about what to eat or drink while in Madagascar, the above information gives you an excellent place to start. Don’t be limited now that you know what to expect. Go out and have one of the best culinary adventures in Madagascar. Even better, interact with the locals and learn a thing or two that can transform your cooking experience back home.