Malagasy cuisine reflects the diverse influences of Southeast Asian, African, Indian, Chinese and European culinary traditions.
The complexity of Malagasy meals can range from the simple, traditional preparations introduced by the earliest settlers, to the refined festival dishes prepared for the island’s 19th-century monarchs.
Throughout almost the entire island, the contemporary cuisine of Madagascar typically consists of a base of rice (vary) served with an accompaniment (laoka).
The many varieties of laoka may be vegetarian or include animal proteins, and typically feature a sauce flavored with such ingredients as ginger, onion, garlic, tomato, vanilla, coconut milk, salt, curry powder, green peppercorns less commonly, other spices or herbs.
In parts of the arid south and west, pastoral families may replace rice with maize, cassava, or curds made from fermented zebu milk.