As a child, I have fond memories of eating lunch after playing outdoors all morning. When my grandmother called me to come home, she would have a steaming plate of rice with metkut and ghee ready for me. Growing up, the meal would become my comfort food and was made every time I was unwell. The earthy, soothing flavours of the dish would never fail to lift my spirits after a poor performance in school.
Metkut is a Maharashtrian spice blend which has been derived from two words in Marathi: Met or methi, meaning fenugreek and kut, which is to grind. Therefore, as the name suggests, metkut is made by grinding roasted fenugreek seeds, coriander seeds, and lentils like chana dal made from split chickpeas, and urad dal, or black gram (from the Vigna mungo tree) and asafoetida into a fine dry powder.
In my Konkani household, metkut is served with gurgutya bhaat, meaning that the rice has to be slightly overcooked and runny, giving it a soft consistency. A generous helping of ghee helps the dry powder combine well.
As only a few spices are added while making metkut, most of the flavour comes from these lentils, giving the powder a strong savoury taste. Therefore, a few tablespoons of metkut are enough to give flavour to an entire plate of rice. Consisting of only three components, the dish is light on the stomach and is therefore served to people when they’re unwell. For an extra bit of spice, lemon or mango pickle is a common side dish in my household.
When I was a child, I would love to layer the powder with ghee onto a roti and eat it as a roll, making it the perfect playtime snack. Here is my family’s metkut recipe, if you want to experience the comforting savouriness for yourself.
1 cup split chana dal
Half a cup urad dal
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 tablespoon fenugreek seeds
Half a tablespoon asafoetida powder
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
Salt to taste