Hen`omby Ritra (Malagasy Simmered Beef)

Disclaimer: This post contains a recipe highlighting a different country or culture. While I strive for authenticity, I sometimes need to make adjustments to recipes due to ingredient availability.  

It’s time for Eat the World (and a Sunday Funday double feature) and we’re heading to Madagascar.

Madagascar is heavily influenced by many different cultures, so I found it surprisingly easy to find a recipe my family would enjoy.

The “simmered beef” is very similar to the beef tips I cook on a semi-regular basis (certainly in the winter) with the main difference being the prominent flavor of ginger (which was fantastic).

As I was reading about Malagasy cuisine, I learned that much of the beef/cow comes from the native zebu.  I saw the spelling and had a flashback to my own and my children’s childhood when we watched VeggieTales.  VeggieTales is a Christian program that uses vegetables to teach bible stories.  Silly, yes.  Effective, also yes.  Where am I going with this?

One of their bits was Silly Songs with Larry (the Cucumber).  He sings nonsense songs and one of them was “The Song of the Cebu

You see the similarity in that spelling?  So I started researching. First I found a picture of an actual zebu and the drawing in the cartoon and they were remarkably similar.  Later, I did find a reference to the spelling  of “zebu” possibly being “cebu” so there you go!

Whatever the spelling, a zebu is a cattle like animal, so American beef is a good substitute and this simmered beef was delicious and enjoyed by all.

Check out all the wonderful Madagascan dishes prepared by fellow Eat the World & Sunday Funday members and share with #eattheworld. Find out how to join Eat the World here and have fun exploring a country a month in the kitchen with us! 


Recipe note:

In Madagascar, a regional cattle called zebu would be used instead of cow

Hen`omby Ritra (Malagasy Simmered Beef)

Adapted from Kulinarian

2 tablespoons canola oil

2 pounds beef roast, cut in cubes

2-inch piece fresh ginger, sliced

2 roma tomatoes, roughly chopped

6 cloves garlic, smashed

Salt & pepper

3-4 cups water

1 tablespoon cornstarch + ¼ cup cold water

Heat the oil in a dutch oven over medium high-heat.  Add beef (working in batches) and sear on all sides.

Once all beef is seared, return it all to the pot.  Add the ginger, tomatoes, and garlic.  Season with salt & pepper and cook for 2-3 minutes.

Add enough water to cover the beef.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and cook for 2 hours, checking occasionally to make sure there is still enough water.

After 2 hours, remove the cover and turn the heat to medium.  Whisk together the cornstarch and water, then whisk the cornstarch mixture into the cooking liquid.  Cook until the liquid is thickened and reduced, another 30-45 minutes.

Serve over rice.

Amy Eats the World in...

Cuba: Ropa Vieja (Slow Cooker Beef)
Ireland: Cheesy Potato Soup with Irish Ale
Thailand: Chicken Satay
Kenya: Crunchy N’Dizi (Peanut Crusted Bananas)
Sweden: Rodbetssallad med Getost (Grated Beet Salad with Goat Cheese)
New Zealand: Kiwi Burge
France: Fougasse (Provencal Flatbread)
Argentina: Chimichurri Sauce
Mexico (Halloween Special): Pan de Muerto (Day of the Dead Bread)
India: Spiced Golden Mil
Poland: Chrusciki (Angel Wing Cookies)
Ethiopia: Buticha (Hummus)
England: Wizarding World of Harry Potter Leaky Cauldron-Style Mini Cottage Pie 
Georgia: Lobiani (Bean-Stuffed Bread)
Mexico: Crispy Pork Carnitas
Cambodia: Loc Lac (Shredded Beef with Lime)
Israel: Chicken Albondigas (Chicken Meatballs)
Finland: Sima (Lemonade) 
Puerto Rico: Arroz con Tocino  (Rice with Bacon)
Egypt: Ghorayebah Cookies
Ukraine: Scuffles (Rohalyky) Cinnamon Crescent Rolls
Portugal: Bitoque (Steak & Eggs) 
Germany (Christmas Special): Lebkuchenherzen (German "Gingerbread" Cookies) 
Trinidad & Tobago: Trini Macaroni Pie 
Iraq: T'bit (Slow Cooked Chicken & Brown Rice) 
Fiji: Fijian Creamy Lentil Soup (Dhal) 
Senegal: Cafe Touba (Senegalese Spiced Coffee) 
Colombia: Cañón de Cerdo (Colombia-Style Pork Loin Roast) 
Soul Food (United States): Oven-Baked Ribs with Cola BBQ Sauce 
Bangladesh: Shemai (Sweet Vermicelli Pudding) 
The Netherlands: Dutch Farmer’s Cheese Soup (Boerenkaas Soep) 
Laos: Khao Piak Sen (Lao Chicken Noodle Soup) 
Jamaica: Chicken &  Pumpkin Soup 
Vietnam: Vietnamese Chicken Porridge (Chao Ga) 
Sudan: Red Lentil Soup (Sudanese Addas) 
Luxembourg: Bouchée à la Reine (Vol-au-Vent)
Uruguay: Pasta Caruso

Lesotho: Borotho Bread
Scotland: Tattie Scones
Native American Tribes of North America: Wild Rice, Squash, & Corn Soup
Guyana: Butterflaps
Réunion Island: Rougail Z'Andouille
Australia: Fairy Bread
Turkey: Simit Bread

Philipines: Pork Siomai

French Polynesia: Vanilla Bean Lemonade
Seychelles: Creole Rice


  1. This sounds like a dish we would like in this household also. My kids used to love Veggie Tales.

  2. That beef is so shiny and succulent looking. I have some beef in the freezer that would be perfect for this.

  3. Amy you've travelled quite a bit of the world cuisine wise, what an impressive list. Coming to zebu, as kids we use to play this game where we would have to write names of countries, plants, animals etc according to the letter where one stops. If the participants named the same word, eg. zebra for animals, our points would get halved. So I scanned my encyclopedia (yes no internet back then) to find another animal name beginning with z and came across zebu.


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