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Fresh fruits and vegetablesRice is the the staple of the Madagascar diet. The resourceful natives have developed literally dozens of delicious preparatory techniques for this plentiful grain. But the Malagasy diet is a varied one, and heaping mounds of rice are usually topped with zebu, an excellent local beef, as well as pork, chicken, crab, fish, corn, peanuts, and potatoes. Fresh fruits and vegetables abound. Spicy curries are popular, as are the numerous exquisite French dishes served at the island’s finest restaurants and hotels.

When in Madagascar, you’ll be urged to try the national snack: Koba, a pate of rice, banana, and peanut. Unless you’re a fan of that peculiar combination of flavors, skip the Koba and order one of the island’s famous seafood salads. You’ll be handed a heaping plateful of luscious ginger-and-lime flavored crab and lobster meat, resting on a bed of fresh greens. Akoho sy voanio, a chicken dish prepared with rice and fresh coconut, is also quite delicious, as is the Foza sy hena-kisoa, a stir-fried crab, pork, and rice dish.

Want to prepare a mouthwatering Madagascar meal in the convenience of your own home? Here’s an easy recipe to try:

Akoho sy voanio
(serves four)

One chicken
One coconut
Two tomatoes
Two onions
Two cloves of garlic
20 grams of ginger
Oil, salt, pepper

Cooking Instructions:

  • Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper to taste. Slice the tomatoes into small cubes. Set aside.
  • Shred the coconut into a clean cloth. Fold the cloth around the shredded coconut.
  • Wet the cloth using a glass of warm water. Squeeze the cloth and the shredded coconut to extract coconut milk. Discard the shredded coconut.
  • If obtaining/shredding a fresh coconut is not possible, you may substitute a can of unsweetened coconut milk instead.
  • Add a small amount of oil to a frypan. Saute chicken until done over medium heat.
  • Add onions to the pan. Continue stirring over medium heat until the onions are brown.
  • Add ginger, tomatoes, and garlic to the pan. Saute together briefly over medium heat.
  • Add coconut milk. Mix well. Reduce heat.
  • Simmer over low heat for thirty minutes.
  • Serve with rice and salad. Enjoy!

Additional Recipes from the University of Pennsylvania:


More than anything else, the people of Madagascar love oratory. The colorful language, Malagasy, like the people who use it, is a living synthesis of Indonesian, African, and Arabic elements. No conversation is complete without a liberal sprinkling of clever euphemisms and timeworn proverbs.

The British missionaries attempted to codify this lyrical language, using the letters of the English alphabet. The Malagasy alphabet is therefore quite similar to the English alphabet, with the following exceptions: The Malagasy alphabet is missing the letters C, Q, U, W, and X. The letter A is always short (as in watch). The letter E sounds like a long A (as in pace). The letter i is pronounced like a long E (as in bean). The letter J sounds like dz. Finally, the letter O sounds like oo. Here’s a list of English phrases and the Malagasy translation:

Hello — Manao ahoana
I’m hungry — Noana aho
I’m thirsty — Mangetaheta aho
I’m tired — Vizako aho
Where is — Aiza
Road — Lalana
Village — Vohitra
River — Ony
How much? — Ohatrinona
Go away! — Mandehana!
Thank you — Misaotra
Goodbye — Veloma

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