The most important tip I can give you on Madagascar local food, and the only one that will make you elevate from being a tourist to becoming a real traveler immersed in the local culture, is “Stay away from McDonalds“. When visiting Madagascar, there is awesome local food to try. Head to the local eateries too, and go where the locals go. For me, the food, wine and and even the water is part of the travel experience.
What to Eat in Madagascar
The cheapest way to get a meal is to eat at a “hotely” or at market places. Simple meals that include a plate of rice, laoka (malagasy for side dish accompanying rice) like chicken, beans or pork, and rice water often are about 2000 Ariary (about 1 dollar) but could even be as low as 500 Ariary. For 200 ariary extra you can get a small glass of homemade yogurt. ‘Compose’ is a small salad that often includes potato salad and some other vegetables, often available for 300 to 600 Ariary. The same is also available on a baguette.
Soups in various kinds, often including pasta are also very popular. Bananas (hundreds of varieties) and rice cakes (Malagasy ‘bread’) are staple ‘street food’ and available everywhere. Coffee is very good, usually hand-made by the cup and served very sweet with condensed milk. Steak-frites is available in restaurants in the larger towns. Supermarkets – In Tana there is a supermarket chain called Jumbo Score. This Western style supermarket is well stocked, but the expensive prices reflect the need to import just about everything. There are many Casino (a French Supermarket) branded goods but also some more local produce (veg, spices etc, far cheaper from any the street markets). Shoprite is a slightly cheaper alternative but usually a smaller selection of stock items.
What to Drink in Madagascar
While in general tap water is considered not safe, in most cities it seldom causes problems. Bottled water costs 30 to 60 eurocent per liter and can be found almost everywhere. The same holds for Fanta, Coca Cola, … Bonbon Anglais, and various beers like Three Horses Beer (THB), Castel, Queens, Skol, … Locals often drink rum because it is much cheaper than beer. Natural and not so natural juices can also readily be found, for 5 to 10 eurocent per cup.
Another option is ranon’apango (RAN-oo-na-PANG-oo) or rice water (water used to cook rice, which will therefore have been boiled) which is often served when eating in local places. It’s particularly important to plan ahead if visiting rural areas. It is worth taking with you some chlorine tablets, which can be used to make the local water drinkable. Home brewed rum, and creme de coco, is also available – in many flavours!
Other local foods, or drinks that you recommend? Please add and comment.