Guyanese Metemgee (metem/mettagee) is a thick soup or stew made with root vegetables cooked in a rich coconut milk broth. According to an article in the Stabroek Newspaper Metemgee (from the Twi metem = plantains or bananas; gye = to delight) is a meal prepared by boiling together various root vegetables with pieces of salted meat in coconut milk. This beloved dish was brought to Guyana by enslaved Africans and passed down through generations.
Why I love Metemgee?
Metemgee is the definition of comfort food. It is one of my favorite dishes that my grandmother made when I was growing up and why I named my blog metemgee. This recipe took some time to perfect. Although I started my blog in 2013, I did not share my metemgee recipe until 2017 because I wanted to get it as close to perfect before sharing.
This recipe takes right back to my childhood and days of visiting my grandmother in West Ruimveldt. My grandmother had the skill of cooking the coconut milk until the fat separated and curdled. This is a sign of great metemgee. I can finally do this with my stove top and instant pot method of making this dish. Click here for the instant pot recipe.
Using the right coconut milk
Fresh coconut milk is really the secret to good metemgee. The consistency of fresh coconut milk is thinner than canned coconut milk. When this milk is boiled to a reduction, the curdles separate and the coconut oil floats to the top of the broth. This is why the best metemgee has white coconut milk curdles. These little curdles is a tell tale sign of good metemgee. Click here to see my tips for finding a good dry (brown) coconut.
What to do if you can't make your own coconut milk?
Don't have access to dried (brown) coconuts where you live? Can't make fresh coconut milk? Here are some alternatives that work really well with this recipe:
- Frozen shredded coconut: This is my second favorite option for coconut milk used in Guyanese recipes. Defrost the frozen coconut milk completely then add it to a blender with water, blend together then strain off the coconut milk. It is the closest thing to fresh coconut milk and works really well with this recipe.
- Canned Coconut milk: You may use canned coconut milk, diluted with water in a 0.5:5 ratio. Use ½ cup of canned coconut milk (shaken well before opening) with 5 cups of water.
What Ground Provisions (Root vegetables) go into metemgee?
There is no right or wrong combination of ground provisions or root vegetables for metemgee. I love sweet yellow plantains, cassava (yuca), sweet potatoes and eddoes (malanga) in my metemgee but feel free to use any starchy root vegetable that you can access.
Preparing the Ground Provisions:
Peeling ground provisions or root vegetables can be a tedious task, even with a vegetable peeler. Therefore, I love using a paring knife instead of a vegetable peeler for this task, especially when peeling cassava (yuca). Once I've peeled all of my root vegetables I cut them into uniform pieces to allow for even boiling. It takes longer for some root vegetables to cook so I cook those first. For instant Cassavas need to be cooked first. To prevent the other vegetables from turning brown, I soak them in a water bath until I need to add them to the dish.
Making the broth for the metemgee
The rich coconut milk broth is what makes metemgee a stand out dish. To make the broth, I sauté onion and garlic in coconut oil which compliments the flavor of the coconut milk. Then I add fresh coconut milk. I season the broth and let it come to a roaring boil before adding my ground provision.
Adding duff to your metemgee
In Guyana we call steamed dumplings duff. Duff is a key component of metemgee. These fluffy steamed dumplings are a great addition to an already delicious dish. The buttery melt in your mouth texture of the duff when dipped in the coconut milk broth really feels like home to me. You can find my fail proof duff recipe here.
Is metemgee Whole30 Compatible?
Metemgee by itself is Whole30 compatible. Some of the garnishes used when serving metemgee may not be Whole30 compatible. While on round of whole30, I skip the duff and shallow fry my fish with a dusting of cassava flour instead of wheat flour. If you want to learn more about the Whole30 click here.
How to serve metemgee
Metemgee garnishes vary depending on where you live/d in Guyana. For instance, most Guyanese eat metemgee with fried fish and duff. Others have it with fried fish, duff and boiled egg. The addition of the boiled egg was introduced to me by my husband's family.
Here are some items that are traditionally served with metemgee:
- Duff (steamed dumplings): sometimes duff is made separately from the metemgee but it is almost always served together. Please click here for my duff recipe.
- Fish: Fried fish is the most popular garnish for metemgee, but you can also serve it with steamed fish or salt fish
- Boiled Eggs: A nice fluffly 8 minute boiled egg is my preference here but if you like a Jammy 6 minute boiled egg that would work well here too.
- Steamed Okra/Ochro: Some people add steamed okra/ochro to their metemgee but I am not a fan of slimy okra. I love a crispy fried okra.
The Printable Guyanese Metemgee (metem/mettagee) Recipe:
Guyanese Metemgee (metem/mettagee)
- 2 cassavas yucas
- 1 large sweet potato
- 1 large yam
- 2 ripe/yellow plantains
- 1 yellow onion diced
- 4 cloves of garlic finely chopped
- 2 wiri wiri peppers
- 5 sprigs of fresh thyme
- 1 Whole coconut grated
- 1 cup of grated frozen coconut
- 1 can of coconut milk
- 10 cups of water
- 2 tablespoon of coconut oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- A pinch of black pepper
- Warm coconut oil on medium heat, in a large pot. Then add the onions and garlic and cook until soft but not brown.
- If using fresh coconut, add grated coconut and 5 cups of water to a blender and blend for about a minute. Then pour over a fine sieve to strain off the pulp
- Next add the coconut milk and remaining water, followed by the thyme, wiri-wiri peppers, salt and a pinch of black-pepper.
- Bring the broth to a boil and let it cook for about 10 minutes.
- Then, add the cassava and boil on high heat until the cassava is cooked and tender.
- Add remaining vegetables and continue to cook until vegetables are fork tender.
If not on Whole30 and adding duff
- Add duff to the pot, cover and let steam on medium heat for 15 minutes.
- Remove duff from the pot and set aside.
- Remove metemgee from the heat, then add few fresh thyme leaves for garnish if needed.
- Add your trimmings (fried fish, boiled eggs or duff) to your metemgee and enjoy!
2. Be very stingy with the amount of water you add to metemgee. It is not meant to be a thin broth but a very think stew like broth.