The cuisine of Madagascar is one of the most interesting in the world and is influenced by French, Indian, African and Arabic cultures. The meals don’t really resemble the staple foods you see in most African countries, with the exception of gigantic portions of rice. Typical flavors incorporate generous usage of ginger, onion, garlic, curry powder, vanilla, lime juice and local vegetables. Many of the dishes were also part of royal dishes that the 19th-century monarchs routinely ate at festivals. Some of the cuisine might seem strange, but don’t worry, there aren’t any Madagascar hissing cockroaches on our list. Here are 10 foods from Madagascar that you have to try.
This is one of the most common dishes you’ll find in Madagascar and is often served as a compliment to a main dish in the highlands. You’ll usually find a mix of cabbage, carrots, green beans and onions mixed in with a mild vinaigrette. In the cities, lasary refers to a condensed condiment of pickled mango and lemons.
You got off easy on the first one. Smalona is an acquired taste and is essentially just stuffed eels. The eels are usually smoked first, then olives, mushroom, apples and onions are packed inside of them. Who knows, if you like BBQ eel at sushi places, there’s a good chance you might like this concoction too.
Ravimbomanga sy patsamena
Don’t let the dried shrimp scare you away. If you like Thai food, you’ll probably enjoy this particular dish. It’s made with potato leaves (think of it like Chinese broccoli), then stewed with dried shrimp and beef in a tomato sauce on a heaping pile of rice.
Kaka Pizon (Caca Pigeon)
These crispy treats are one of the quintessential street foods in Madagascar, particularly in Antananarivo. They are similar to fried wonton strips and make a great substitute for potato chips. It’s often spiced up with some chili paste to give it kick, but you can wash it down with the next item on our list.
This drink is another peculiar staple that has a bit of an acquired taste, but the ingredients aren’t off putting. Ranovola is just burnt rice tea. People in Madagascar take the bottom of the rice pot and mix it in with water for a few hours to create a “refreshing” drink.
Voanjobory sy henakisoa
This is another traditional dish from Madagascar that was eaten during Merina royal festivals during an elaborate feast. It’s still eaten in homes and restaurants throughout the country. The dish consists of Bambara groundnuts that are cooked with chopped pork and served over rice.
Though it looks kind of like giant hunks of Ahi tuna, this delicious dessert is actually made from peanuts, honey, and mashed bananas that are then wrapped in banana leaves and boiled until set. It’s one of the most popular desserts in the country and can be found as street food almost anywhere.
Foza sy hena-kisoa
You can’t live on an island without incorporating seafood into the local cuisine, and this dish does just that. It’s usually made with a combination of stir fried pork, crab, lobster, lime juice, ginger and fresh greens. Of course, like many dishes in Madagascar, it’s served with a giant pile of rice.
Akoho sy voanio
This main course is one of the most popular meals on the island that you’ll find in pretty much any Malagasy restaurant. It’s made with coconut milk, tomatoes, chicken, onion, garlic, ginger and ground pepper. Thai chicken curry fans are sure to love this one.
If you like Spanish blood sausage, then you’ll probably like sesika, which is exactly what it is — a local blood sausage! However, unlike most sausages that are made with pork blood, this one is made with chicken blood and parts, then seasoned to taste with local spices.