How To Cook Like A Malagasy: Mofo Ravina

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In the name of seeing behind walls, of drawing closer to and finding each other, and of feeling more, as Walter Mitty creator, James Thurber described the purpose of life, we travel… But rather than merely passing through, we linger longer, and let ourselves melt into the landscape, trying to absorb all the elements of a place. Its whole spirit. One of the best ways to do this is through food, through eating the different dishes of a new land, yes, but even better, learning to cook with and like the local people. Whether in Rome or Cape Town, Zambia or the Caribbean, cooking unites us through taste. Through our mutual love of good food. And sometimes, merely, weird food.

At Anjajavy le Lodge in Madagascar, we discovered even more about the country, the land and people, through their Malagasy cooking class. First on the menu: a little something called Mofo Ravina, Malagasy for “bread to the leaf”, a dish served to us each morning at breakfast. It is also, waiter Dominic said, a dish that he remembers clearly from childhood; one given, traditionally, to Malagasy children as a snack because it is so high in energy. 

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Recipe

Ingredients

250 g rice flour
3 large ripe bananas
1 vanilla bean
2 tbsp sugar
Banana leaves 

Method

Peel and crush the bananas with a fork.

Split the vanilla bean and scrape with a knife to collect the pulp.

Add the sugar and vanilla pulp to the crushed bananas, and finally the sifted flour. Mix thoroughly to obtain a thick paste.

To prepare the banana leaves, drift the shiny side over an open flame to make the leaf more supple.

Next, cut the banana leaves into 20 x 15 cm rectangles. Spoon 1 tablespoon of the mixture into the middle of the rectangle. Fold the edges of the sheet to the right, then left, fold the top and then the bottom. If you like you can tie a string around it (like wrapping a gift) to keep it in place.

Place the packages in a steam cooker and cook for 12 minutes. If they are larger than 2 cm thick and 6 cm long, increase the cooking time. (It is the cooking in the banana leaf that gives all the flavour to this snack.)

Remove the mofo ravina from the banana leaves and enjoy warm.

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Malagasy cooking

The Art of the Heart-to-Heart in the Winelands

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conversation
noun,

a talk between two or more people, in which news and ideas are exchanged.
synonyms: discussion, talk, tête-à-tête, heart-to-heart, head-to-head, exchange, dialogue, parley, powwow, chit-chat, chinwag, natter.

Walking along a mountain path with Autumn’s colours spanning out from our feet and across the vines, we find ourselves falling into conversation with the people at our side as naturally as we fall into step with them.

Identity seems to dissolve, while we focus more on the words and ideas (the glances and silences) playing between us. While we watch our feet, as they guide us. Conversations aren’t inherently like this. Very often we are rudely aware of ourselves, but perhaps it’s the effect of being in nature and the effect of genuine understanding – talking with someone who just gets you, whom you get. So much so that you feel as though you’re talking to yourself. But a self adding new ideas and stories to the developing tale between you all.

Word of mouth, things spread, things grow and change, and we leave, uplifted and renewed.

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Gathered with our extended Relais & Châteaux Africa tribe, at Delaire Graff Estate in the Cape Winelands of South Africa, for a two-day get-together, there were many conversations like this. Conversations that matter. Conversations struck between the evening yoga and long table dining at Delaire Graff Restaurant, between breakfast on the verandah of Indochine and group talks on the Art of Giving, the Heart of Africa, as we call it… the myriad community and conservation projects at work at the Relais & Châteaux lodges and hotels in Africa.

This is the reason we come together – to share, to inspire, and to remember the bonds that unite us.

Below are a few images from our stroll through the vineyards of Delaire Graff Estate, and yoga and meditation with the Escape + Explore team, as well as our bonding over meals and other kinds of “food for thought”.

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