Burger with Coconut Rice and Unripe Mangos
The Republic of Madagascar, despite what you’ve seen in the movies, is not run by lemurs and/or fossa. It is home to over 24million people. The animals are important, but let’s start with the people. After achieving independence from the French in 1960, the Malagasy people have struggled with political instability. It is a poor country with agriculture being the primary industry. GDP per capita is 217th in the world.
Complicating matters is the youth of the country. More than 60% of Malagasy people are under the age of 25. Young women are often encouraged to marry even before age 18. Very young women are getting married and having children themselves. The average age for having a first child is just over 19. Women average 4 children in their lifetime, the population continues to grow. Poor access to healthcare and education along with food insecurity make this a challenging place in which to live.
At the same time, it is a beautiful place with an unimaginable diversity of flora and fauna. I could geek out for hours on the super cool animals that are unique to Madagascar. Between 1999 and 2010, 615 new species have been discovered in Madagascar. The lemurs, OMG, lots of lemurs, so cute!
And there’s this cute little creature called a tenrec – there are around 30 species of tenrec in Madagascar.
And baobabs, the coolest tree ever!
So, if you have some extra vacation dollars and you’re looking for a place that welcome’s tourists and has stuff that can’t be seen anywhere in the world, try Madagascar.
Malagasy food is simple, mangos, rice, coconuts and greens are all staples of the Malagasy diet. Meat is available, but typically eaten in small amounts with large helpings of rice and stewed vegetables as common accompaniments. Like so many countries in this region, spicy peppers are used liberally to add flavor to otherwise simple foods.
I haven’t worked with unripe mangos before, so I really wanted to try them out. I also took this as an opportunity to make my coconut rice. By substituting coconut milk for most of the water, you get a creamy, sticky and slightly sweet rice that is a perfect accompaniment to spicy foods. Some kale gives a little bitter bite to balance the sweet and spicy. I used beef for the patty mainly because I was in the mood for beef. It is eaten in Madagascar, so it’s fair game. I probably should have used fish or chicken, but sometimes you’ve got to go with what you’re craving.
The result was a tropical treat. The mangos and kale are a little sour, the rice lightly sweet. Add those to the meaty beef and some spicy sauce and you have a you have a burger that feels light. I wish it were warmer here, because this is really perfect for a warm weather day, but just bookmark it for summer and try it out when mangos become plentiful.
Madagascar burger (click for printable version)
1 cup long grain rice
1 can coconut milk (13.5 ounces)
½ cup water
1 pound ground beef (80% lean)
Chopped fresh kale
Unripe Mangos (recipe below – make ahead)
Chili Mayo (recipe below – make ahead)
Make the Unripe Mangos and the Chili Mayo first then let the mangos cool to room temperature and refrigerate the mayo.
In a medium pot, combine rice, coconut milk and water. Bring to a boil then reduce to simmer and cover. Cook for 15 minutes or until liquids have been absorbed (this will make a sticky rice, not a light fluffy rice). In the meantime, form four patties from the beef. Salt them liberally. Cook the patties in enough oil just to coat the pan.
To assemble, place a scoop of rice on each plate then layer on some chopped kale. Placed the cooked patty on the kale (this will wilt the kale a little bit, but that makes it yummier and easier to eat). Now a dollop of Chili Mayo and a scoop of Unripe Mango – I know, dollop and scoop aren’t measurements, but taste each of the components and put more or less depending on your personal preferences.
1 unripe mango peeled, pitted and cut horizontally into thin slices1 small onion sliced thin
4 cloves garlic peeled and cut in half
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1 cup lemon juice
1 cup white wine vinegar
Put all ingredients into a medium pot. Bring to a boil and boil for 2 minutes. Cover and cool to room temperature. Remove the garlic pieces before using.
Note: pick a hard green mango – if you get a soft yellow or red one, the whole flavor will be too sweet.
1 red fresno chili chopped
¾ cup mayonnaise
¼ teaspoon dried ground ginger
Place all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until smooth. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
©Copyright 2017 Linda Monach