Malagasy Cuisine

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Madagascar - Cooking and Foods

Overview of Malagasy Cuisine History

Madagascar is a country in the Indian Ocean, in the South – East of Africa. Due to the fact that it is an insular African region, the Madagascar cuisine is considered to be a polyglot one, as various cultures of immigrants and natives have combined their culture on this territory since old history: the Indians and the Maya, the local natives and some Europeans. The Indian influences in the Madagascar cuisine refer mostly to the curried meats and aliments, to the wide range of spices and aromas and to sweeter tastes of the complex dishes. The Malay people also brought the curries and the chutneys, but also pickled fish and fish stews and curried meats, like zebra or Lamb.

Madagascar has various agricultural resources which are used in the traditional cuisine, such as: manioc, nutmeg and various spices, banana trees, vanilla and coffee plantations, but the breeding of cattle is a spread custom, as well.

Cuisines of Madagascar

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Map of Madagascar- Click to enlarge

There can be found various cuisines in the regions of Madagascar, including Asian, Europeans, Indian and authentic African ones. A traditional African dish is the potjies, which is basically maize stew with onions and tomatoes and it is consumed with rice. The European dishes that can be found in Madagascar resume to the Dutch fried crueler and the pies with milk dough and filling. In Lilongwe, the variety of dishes is wider than in the other regions – in here, all Asian, European and Indian dishes can be found, besides the traditional African ones. In the more rural areas, people usually consume the local fruits, like the bananas, avocado, papayas and local veggies, like manioc, which is mashed and consumed with stewed veggies or with meat dishes. Meat is consumed more frequently in the capital, while in the other regions, the diet is based on vegetables and fruits. Besides all these, there is a variety of seafood and fish, represented by Tuna, Crayfish, mussels, oysters and lobster.

Preparation Methods for Malagasy Cooking

The diversity of vegetables and cereals found in Madagascar is also noticed in the delicious dishes belonging to their cuisine. Madagascar cuisine uses elements from various cooking traditions borrowed from their neighbors and developed from their own traditional dishes. While there are no specific or unique preparation methods for Madagascar cooking, we should point out that attention to detail is important in the Madagascar cuisine. Using the right amount of spices for example is essential – either for spicing up the taste or for coloring the dish. The visual attractiveness of the dish is also important, and a balance between colors and proportion differentiates. Each traditional dish has a special cooking method, which is more or less general in all of Madagascar’s regions. Meat is one of the main elements of most Madagascar dishes and cured and smoked hams are often parts of delicious dishes.

Special Equipment for Malagasy Cooking

Madagascar cuisine needs a diverse cooking equipment set in order to produce the most sophisticated Madagascar dishes: ranging from cake pans, can openers, colanders, egg rings, poachers and holders, food dishers & portioners, food pans & food containers to other kitchen utensils, such as food scales, food scoops and fryer baskets & accessories. You should consider insulated food carriers if you are transporting the food and a full set of kitchen linens and uniforms if you wish to look like a pro. Here are a few other items that will come handy while cooking Madagascar food: juicers, kitchen knives, kitchen slicers, kitchen thermometers, measuring cups & measuring spoons, miscellaneous utensils, mixing bowls and skimmers & strainers. Essential utensils like serving spoons, spatulas, forks, turners, scrapers and tongs should also be part of your cooking "arsenal".

Malagasy Food Traditions and Festivals

There are many customary events and celebrations which are especially celebrated in the rural areas of Madagascar. Among these, there are the Alahamady Be (The New Year Festival), rice Harvest (which is celebrated all through the country), Fisemana (celebration of the Antakarana people) and the Famadihana (turning of the bones festival). Besides these, there are numerous religious holidays, as there are 3 main religions in Madagascar. On all special occasions, people usually eat the traditional African meals, like the potjies, which is basically maize stew with onions and tomatoes and it is consumed with rice and the koba, which is a mixture of rice, banana and peanuts.

People in Malagasy Food

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Whether they are cooking dishes that go back in time for centuries or brand new, modern dishes, Madagascar chefs take pride in what they do, and this is readily noticeable in the unforgettable taste of their cooking. There are many chefs who creatively use the basic ingredients and cooking method for traditional Madagascar dishes and create original and delicious food variations. Madagascar chefs are passionate about their traditional dishes and they enjoy presenting them to foreigners who have never tasted them before.