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two homes, one dish

Passport & Plate - Vary Amin'anana

Madagascar | Thursday, 5 March 2015 | 5 photos

x2 tomatoes (shelled out)
x4 cloves of garlic (chopped)
1 - 2 inches of ginger (chopped)
x1 white onion
x3 - 4 spring onions
2 - 3 tbsp olive oil
pinch of salt
good grind of pepper
x3 types of "greens" - good sized bunches (to taste)
2 cups of long grain rice (e.g. basmati)

(optional) tempura prawns / fried egg / chicken or lamb skewers / fried mince


How to prepare this recipe
1. cut open your tomatoes and shell out all of the insides (no pips allowed!)
2. chop up the garlic, ginger, onion, tomatoes and spring onions into similar sized small chunks (sometimes I make my ginger pieces bigger as I love the taste and hit of flavour / spice)
3. add the olive oil to a good deep pot (le creusets are quite good) along with the chopped garlic, ginger, onion and tomato
4. add a good pinch of salt and a good grind of black pepper (I use Sarawak black pepper from a relatively recent trip)
5. once the above ingredients have softened and mushed a little, add the spring onions and leave it all to simmer
6. chop up your "greens" into good sized chunks or strips - I used cavolo nero (black kale), leeks and baby leaf greens
7. add your chopped greens into the melting pot of onions et al, stir in and let the green soften (increase heat if needed)
8. wash your basmati rice (I usually do this 3/4 times to get rid of as much starch) and add to the now softened greens in sauce
9. check the seasoning at this point (taste the greens or sauce) and add more salt or pepper if needed
10. cover the ingredients in the pot with cold water until level, close the lid and let it do its thing
11. after 20 - 30 minutes check the rice to see if it's cooked, leave a little longer if not (should be soft)
12. add more water throughout step 11 if need and to taste (this is a rice soup so I quite like it relatively liquify)


The story behind this recipe
I moved to London from Antananarivo at a young age. Although London is where I've spent most of my life, I still have a deep connection with Madagascar - the majority of my family live there including my mum. Although I may not get the chance to practice my mother tongue in London I at least try and make up for it by attempting to cook recipes from home.

Vary Amin'anana is a traditional and I would say pretty staple part of a Malagasy family's diet - it's simple, filling and relatively cheap to make, a dish that all family members can find comfort in. For me, the key ingredient is the rice. For a malagasy, rice will always be at the table (for lunch, dinner and even breakfast) and is the heart of the meal - it's something you simply add other ingredients to to make it tasty! On my last trip, I finally asked my mum to teach me how to make vary amin'anana. After a fun trip to the local street market, she talked me through it as I frantically wrote everything down. I was given a warning though - some of the ingredients might not exist outside of Madagascar, so I knew I would have to get creative with whatever I could find when attempting the recipe back home in London.

I love learning how to cook from family and friends, particularly my mum, over books (these are mainly for the mouthwatering pictures). You get a real story behind the meal and I think the extra touches someone adds to a handed-down recipe makes it even more special. I love London, it's as much my home as Madagascar is, but there is something super comforting about cooking a recipe from home with a little bit of mum's touch. The difference is, my London ingredients are a little bit foreign and I get to add my own little touch - beautiful tempura prawns from my favourite restaurant in London (Dotori). And voila, two flavoursome homes in one little dish.

About cathiatravels

Two homes, one dish: Vary Amin'anana (with Dotori tempura prawns)

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