Metemgee (metem) or sometimes called dry food, is a thick soup or stew of 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. It is African in origin and came to Guyana from the enslaved Africans.
For me it is the definition of comfort food. Although I started my blog in 2013, it wasn’t until 2017 that I shared my metemgee recipe, when I relaunched my blog. Before this, I was hesitant to share my metemgee recipe because I wasn’t sure it was good enough. My metemgee never comes out as good as dad’s and is no where close to my late grandmother’s. It is the namesake dish of my blog and I I wanted it to be perfect before sharing.
Root vegetables are the star of metemgee
Root vegetables and coconut milk are really all you need to make metemgee. Everything else just complements these ingredients. In Guyana root vegetables are called ground provision. Imagine yuca (cassava), sweet potatoes and malanga (taro or eddoes as they are known in Guyana) bathed in coconut milk and cooked to perfection.
This is a dish that 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’ve achieved this twice using the stove top method of making this dish. And it happens every time I make it in my instant pot. Click here for the instant pot recipe.
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 stand out. 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. You can also used canned coconut milk but fresh coconut milk work best for this dish. I season the broth and let it come to roaring boil before adding my ground provision.
Adding duff to your metemgee
In Guyana we call steamed dumplings duff. If you are on a Whole30 round skip the duff as adding them will make this meal non-compliant. If not on Whole30 and you don’t have issues with gluten or grains, add some duff to your metemgee for a traditional experience. You can find my duff recipe here.
Serving your 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. When it comes to metemgee I am a purist. I like to eat mine without garnishes. My husband on the other hand loves his metemgee with lots of “obstacles”, as he says, and he definitely cuts open one of the wiri-wiri peppers for added heat/spice. Whatever your preference, make some metemgee this weekend and enjoy it with your family!
- 2 cassavas (yucas)
- 1 large sweet potato
- 1 large yam
- 2 ripe/yellow plantains
- 1yellow 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 tbsp of coconut oil
- 1 tsp 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.
- 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.