With a civilization based on rice cultivation, as a legacy of South-East Asia, it is not surprising that statistically, the Malagasy people is one of the biggest rice consumers in the world, forcing the country to import from China, Thailand and India for its current rice.
Madagascar imports for consumption while exports to France, in the form of luxury rice and recently to the United States and Italy in the form of red rice with more natural taste. Even though it has other grains such as corn or sorghum, and tubers (cassava, yams and potatoes), the Malagasy feels hungry and weakened without his plate of rice.
Usually, rice is steamed and dry for lunch, but it is boiled like soup for breakfast and dinner. It then takes the name of “sosoa” and consumed along with fried or grilled meat, an omelet or remains of the meal the night before. It is also the only dish of rice, which accommodates a sweet (honey, peanut paste or even milk). The dry parboiled rice.
Basis of any important meal it is the equivalent of bread in the Western cuisine. It is so important that among the old, used cooking unit of time: according to its length, it takes one or two to cook rice, duration surprisingly accurate because, whatever the quantity of grain or fuel used, this almost always took less than an hour. This cooking is only with water no salt and fat, and is stopped when the bottom of the pot is being burned giving caramelized grain rice that has a smell which is immediately recognizable. This caramelization authorize the construction of the traditional non alcoholic drink, called ranovola (water money), recognizable by its characteristic aroma and recommended by the medical faculty for its gastric properties. The drink is also sovereign cure for gourmands who abuse Malagasy chilly: if drunken very hot, it immediately relieves the alkaloid chemical burn of chilly, that the frozen drinks are powerless to curb.
It’s only out of the pot that the rice will be added with various sauces or served plain and sprinkled with some kind of spinach broth. The latter is for some great restaurant tables to show a dish that requires special care. But, whether a family meal where there was some boiled vegetables in lightly salted water or a festivity menu with good stewed meet, shrimp royal ingredients refined and delicate spices, the broth on the steamed rice will embellish the dish. At the same time one or more braised meat, the most fat possible, or fish sauce will be served. Chicken meat, duck, turkey and goose dishes are festive, all poultry craving is met by sacrificing a chicken farm, said Malagasy chicken, with stringy flesh but often cheaper and more appreciated being more pronounced in its taste.
This brief overview shows that the Malagasy cuisine is more family and economic avoiding complications. The use of fat is parsimonious: they will be provided primarily by the meat being almost always selected for their fat which appoints the rarest use for fat of vegetable origin, which will only be used to skip or to fry foods.
We have already said, unlike the African cuisine, Malagasy cooking uses very little tubers as staple food or as ingredients. It appeals more to leaves and herbs, rich in vitamins but not filling much. One of the favorite elements is the cassava leaf, finely crushed to look like puree recalling spinach dishes. Called ravitoto, this puree is accommodated with pork bacon, the very fat hump of zebu, crushed peanuts and coconut, rarely mixed with fish, but always with a lot of fat. It is quite surprising that this dish, very popular, almost always served in family, but never during a gala dinner except among the diasporas where those who seem nostalgic rush it. Composition and taste very close to the Congolese somba, it has a slightly bitter taste and apparently the property of healing the intestinal mucosa in cases of diarrhea.
Tasting the various Malagasy dishes, you’ll notice that the natural flavor of ingredients is very rarely distorted or hidden, unlike our speech; our food is frugal, simple, without plates or ellipses but clear and direct. This does not prevent some of our great cooks to win medals and honors in various competitions organized by the masters of the genre in France.