Wednesday, June 26, 2013

On the Menu: Madagascar's National Dish

Let's Eat!

If this blog has taught me anything it's that I really enjoy trying the foods and recipes from different countries, and that my kids don't share that same passion.  This week we are learning about Madagascar and I didn't really know what to expect, but I was very happy to find that lemur was not a featured ingredient in any dish I saw. 

In Madagascar they raise a type of cattle called Zebu.  They were introduced to the country by Indonesian settlers over 1,000 years ago as a means of meat, milk, and as farm labor.  The people also raise and eat chickens and, because of the surrounding Indian Ocean, seafood of all types.  Many types of vegetables and fresh fruits are also part of the cuisine and rice is the main staple- it is served at every meal! 

Traditionally, meals are served and eaten on mats on the ground, with the food on a plate in the center and everyone eating from the same dish. The food is prepared simply, not usually spicy but they do have a spicy condiment that they use called sakay.

We chose to make the national dish - Romazava.  Romazava is a stew of beef and greens served over rice.  Simple, healthy and sounds pretty good.  There are many versions on the internet- here is my version since I made some variations. 

For the recipe you will need:
  • 2 lbs. cubed beef (zebu if you can find it)
  • 1 lg. onion - chopped
  • 1 can tomatoes- chopped or diced
  • 4 cloves garlic- finely chopped
  • 1 T fresh ginger- finely chopped
  • 1 T salt
  • 1 red bell pepper- chopped
  • 1 jalapeno- diced
  • 4 cups water (broth might be nice too)
  • 1 bunch of spinach (about 3 cups)- coarsely chopped
  • 1 bunch watercress- coarsely chopped
  • 1 bunch kale- coarsely chopped
1.  Fry the onions in a large pan until they are soft.  Add the meat and cook about 10 minutes until browned.
2.  Add the garlic, ginger, tomatoes, jalapeno and bell pepper and cook for another 10 minutes.
3.  Add the water and bring to a boil.  When boiling add the greens.  It looks like a lot but they wilt quickly.
4. Reduce heat to low and simmer (covered) for about 45 minutes or until meat is tender.
5. Serve over rice.  I added some sriracha sauce to it at the end too.

This was a simple and pretty tasty dish, although not the most attractive.  Lots of healthy dark green leafy vegetables.  The kids liked the meat and sauce over the rice but I had to pick the greens out.  I imagine that some of the nutrition leeched into the meat and broth, right?  I felt like it needed something though, I don't know what.  The original recipes had all types of different greens that I'd never heard of, the one I mainly based mine on had mustard greens.  Maybe it was my choice of greens that was off?  Who knows?  This was the first time I'd ever eaten watercress.  Kind of peppery and bitter, interesting.  Overall, this wasn't one of my favorite meals but it was good and no lemurs were injured.

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