Thecha is the quintessential condiment of my home state, Maharashtra. It takes its name from the verb ‘thechne’ meaning ‘to pound’ and the basic recipe simply entails pounding green chilli and garlic.
In Maharashtrian cuisine, this term is applied to a wide range of savoury semi-dry ‘chutneys’ that are prepared by pounding ingredients together, either on a flat pan like a tawa or in a pestle and mortar. There are a multitude of riffs on the basic theme to suit seasonal produce, and of course, one’s cravings. This fiery pungent mix with a semi-dry consistency can bring even the plainest food to life.
In this fenugreek thecha or methicha thecha, the star ingredient, that is, fresh fenugreek is sautéed with pounded green chillies and garlic along with other umami-rich ingredients. Traditionally thecha is always zanzaneet meaning, it’s fiery and smokey hot. However, I am a firm believer in customising recipes, within reason, to suit one’s palate and seasonality. So this thecha is toned down deliberately to medium spicy. You’re welcome to add extra chillies to fire things up a notch if you think you can handle it!
Thecha is all about full-on flavours. Just a sprinkle will transform a bowlful of plain dal and rice. Even a plain chapati or bhakri becomes a tasty snack with a dusting of thecha.
Fresh Fenugreek Thecha / Methicha Thecha / Methi Thecha / मेथीचा ठेचाCourse: Condiment, MainCuisine: Maharashtrian, IndianDifficulty: Easy
100g fresh fenugreek (methi) (leaves along with their stalk, sorted and picked from the bunch and washed)
25g (⅓ cup) dried coconut, grated
75g (½ cup) whole red peanuts
7-10 green chillies, stalks removed
12-15 garlic cloves
1 medium-sized shallot (chopped)
¼ tsp amchoor powder or dried mango powder
1½ tsp pink Himalayan salt
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp sesame seeds
15g (¼ cup) chopped coriander (with stalks and leaves)
65g rapeseed or any neutral oil
Pestle & mortar
- Roast the peanuts in a flat pan or tawa over a medium flame, until light brown and smokey. This could take between 3 to 7 minutes. Then transfer them onto a wide plate or bowl to cool.
- Meanwhile, finely chop the washed methi either by hand or in a chopper and leave aside.
- Scrunch the peanuts once cooled by hand and collect the flakes to one side. Discard the flakes either by blowing or by hand. Coarsely grind or chop the skin-less peanuts in a chopper or blender using a start-stop motion. Keep aside.
- In a pestle and mortar, coarsely pound the green chillies and garlic to a paste. Keep aside.
- In a flat pan over a medium flame, heat the oil. Then, splutter the cumin seeds. Tip in the chopped onion and sauté until light golden.
- Stir in the green chilli and garlic paste and sauté until the garlic is ever so light golden.
- Mix in the grated dried coconut followed by the ground peanut prepared in step 3. Stir for a minute.
- Tip in the chopped methi and mix everything together. Stir when the methi starts smoking.
- Add the amchoor powder, salt and sesame seeds. Sauté for a further 3-5 minutes until the mixture along with methi is cooked. Garnish with the chopped coriander. Switch off the flame.
- Once cooled, transfer into a dry airtight container. Store it in the fridge for a longer shelf life. This thecha will keep for a month.
- Be sure to use fresh methi for this recipe.
- The traditional recipe calls for pounding green chillies, garlic, peanuts and dried coconut together. However, lacking a large pestle and mortar I resorted to my trusty grinder/chopper to finish the job. I did, however, pound garlic and green chillies in a small pestle and mortar to stay faithful to the rustic nature of ‘thecha’.
- You can use shop-bought pre-skinned salted peanuts instead of red peanuts. I prefer to make my own for their freshness and crunch.
- Contrary to this blog’s name and thecha’s reputation for fieryness, this recipe is not too extreme. It is medium spicy to suit Indian and European palates. Of course, you’re welcome to ramp up the green chillies to make it fully zanzaneet!
- The key to the longer shelf-life of this thecha is in how thoroughly the thecha has been sautéed at the end. Each ingredient added has to be well-fried. After adding the methi it should be fried for a good 3-5 minutes, ensuring it becomes smokey but without charring or burning it.
- This is fresh fenugreek thecha or methi thecha and as such the methi is not meant to be overcooked to the point where it completely dries out. It is simply sautéed in a flat pan. So expect a slight bitterness from the methi in this thecha.