Malagasy cuisine is a mixture of French, African and European flavours. While the island is most famous for its jumping lemurs, lush rainforests and bright-blue coastlines, it’s also become famous as a destination for food lovers.
The Indian Ocean Island was a refuge for Indo-Malayan people, who brought rice; African settlers, who brought cows that are known as “zebu”, as well as Arab and Indian traders introduced spices. The French colonialists gave Madagascar vanilla, pastries, and duck. We decided to weigh in on our favourite restaurants in Madagascar.
Top of the list for top restaurants is La Varangue in capital city Antananarivo, and it’s here that Malagasy chef Lalaina Ravelomanana skilfully turns local ingredients into Michelin star-worthy dishes. On the menu you can find zebu steak cooked in smoked lard, with curried chicken livers, spiced carrots and cocoa gravy.
La Varangue’s wine cellar features a fine list of French and South African wines, and a few local vintages too. Malagasy wine cannot yet be compared to their fine rum production – which they’ve turned into a successful production. Every city produces its own rum blend, and every meal is accompanies with a digestive rhum arrangé (flavoured rum). Choose from dozens of flavours, like cinnamon, vanilla, lemon and lychee.
One of the best restaurant in Madagascar, Mad Zebu gets top star reviews for its excellent food in an extremely surprising location. Most visitors visit the restaurant on their way to or back from the famous Tsingy for its first class French-influenced food.
Located in Belo Tsiribihina, a remote town on the west coast of Madagascar, the drive there is a long dirt road journey from Morondava including a river crossing by barge. ‘Mad’ stands for ‘Madagascar’ and ‘Zebu’ for the traditional breed of cattle herded by the Malagasy.
Contact: Mad Zebu (Belo-sur-Tsiribihina; 032-07-589-55)
Chez Madame Chabaud
Now run by her daughter, Mme Chabaud’s restaurant is hands down the best table in Mahajanga. Dishes are prepared with care and the restaurant is especially well-known for its seafood dishes. The restaurant is tucked away in a little side street and from the outside may not appear to be anything special, but the inside is beautiful with a cuisine that’s a mix of classic French cooking with local produce. The Caiprinhas may well be the best in the whole of Madagascar!
Contact: Chez Madame Chabaud (off Ave du Général de Gaulle, Majunga; 020-62-233-27),
Les Bungalows d’Ambonara in Nosy Be
Les bungalows d’Ambonara is set on an old coffee plantation about 1 km away from Hell-Ville. Local cuisine and seafood is served at the restaurant and there is also a bar. Its cuisine is complemented by a beautiful view of the bright blue coastline and lush forests. Run by a French-trained chef, the restaurant and its attentive staff is a great place to experience Malagasy cuisine with a French twist.
Contact: +261 32 02 478 32