Official Language(s): French, Plateau Malagasy Some Other Languages Spoken: Antankarana, Masikoro, Tanosy, Tandroy-Mahafaly, Mwali, and Ndzwani Ethnic Groups: Malayo-Indonesian (Merina and related Betsileo), Cotiers (mixed African, Malayo-Indonesian, and Arab ancestry – Betsimisaraka, Tsimihety, Antaisaka, Sakalava), French, Indian, Creole, Comoran
Malagasy cuisine generally consists of rice (called Vary), a staple dish, with various meat or vegetable accompaniements, called Laoka. Rice has remained an important part of every meal, including breakfast, and is even a main ingredient in a traditional beverage. The preparation of meals is often a social affair encompassing traditions from Southeast Asia, Africa, India, and France. Fruits, leafy vegetables, seafood, and chicken are common in Malagasy cuisine. Zebu, or Brahman cattle, provide a local source of beef for the Malagasy people. Malagasy cuisine differs from that in other African countries, as it’s usually not heavily spiced. Though dishes often require lengthy preparation, the cooking is done with basic ingredients and simple methods.
Romazava is a traditional one pot dish with various meats and leafy vegetables, simply seasoned and slow cooked to perfection. As the national dish of Madagascar, it combines many of the key ingredients used in Malagasy cuisine to create a hearty stew that’s served over rice. The leafy vegetables used can include spinach, watercress, mustard greens, as well as other locally grown leaves and flowers. A combination of greens is often used to impart more flavor into the stew.
1 tablespoon peanut oil
1 pound stewing beef, cut into 1-inch chunks
1 pound fresh pork shoulder, cut into 1-inch chunks
3 whole chicken breasts, split and cut into 1-inch pieces
6 large ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped
2 medium-size onions, coarsely chopped
7 cloves garlic, minced
2-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and julienned
1 pound fresh spinach leaves, washed and shredded
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Cooked white rice, for serving
Heat the oil in heavy saucepan or stockpot and sear the beef. Add water to cover, bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes.
Add the pork and continue to cook for an additional 30 minutes. Add more water if necessary. Add the chicken pieces and continue to cook for another 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes and continue cooking until they are incorporated into the sauce.
Add the onion, garlic and ginger and continue to cook for about 10 minutes. Finally, add the spinach, season with salt and pepper and stir until the leaves are wilted and just cooked. Serve hot with white rice.