Keema matar is nicely spiced dry curry of peas and ground beef or lamb. It’s a great change to the usual saucy Indian curries. When you want to mix it up. Or when you are just going crazy cooking a bunch of curries and you want something that stands out.
Never heard of keema matar? You’re not alone. I’d never heard of it until it was put in front of me in an Indian restaurant. “Eat this”. “It’s good”. “You’ll like it”. So I did. And it’s good. I like it.
It’s not on every Indian restaurant menu. That’s a good thing. Every restaurant has a madras. A vindaloo. A butter chicken. But not every restaurant has keema matar. It’s outside the formula. When those who dare take control. Try keema matar. Try something new. You won’t be sorry.
Before you start do your prep. That’s important. Make your curry base and have some heated and ready to go. Pre-cook your keema. Measure out your ingredients. Have everything ready. Put on an apron – a bit of splatter is part of the fun.
If you have not read the guide to Indian restaurant technique yet, do it now. It has pictures to help you understand the recipe. There’s also a guide to Indian ingredients in that post.
Keema mattar. For when you dare to be different.
Keema matar is a dish that needs to be on more restaurant menus. It needs to be on your table too!
- 2 Tbsp oil
- 1/2 onion - finely minced
- 2 tsp garlic ginger paste - recipe link below
- 1/2 tsp kasoor methi - fenugreek leaves
- 2 tsp Indian restaurant spice mix - recipe link below
- 1 tsp kashmiri chili powder
- 1 tsp kosher salt - seems like a lot but it does take quite a bit - you can always use less and adjust at the end
- 2 tsp tomato paste with enough water to dilute to the consistency of pasetta
- 15 oz curry base - recipe link below
- 1 1/2 cup peas
- 12 oz pre-cooked keema - recipe link below
- a bit of water if needed while simmering
- juice of 1/4 lemon
- salt to taste - or not
- a bit of sliced red chili to garnish
- Combine Indian restaurant spice mix, kasoor methi, chili powder and salt in a small bowl.
- Dilute the tomato paste with enough water to get to the consistency of passata.
- Heat your frying pan (don't use non-stick) briefly over medium heat. Add 2 Tbsp vegetable oil. Use all the oil specified. It's important.
- When the oil starts to shimmer add the onion and cook until translucent.
- Stir in the garlic ginger paste. Cook it, stirring constantly, until it stops sputtering.
- Turn down the heat and add the spice mix. This is the critical step. Stir it constantly for 30 seconds. If it starts to darken lift the pan off the heat. You want the spice mix to cook in the oil but not burn.
- Turn the heat up to medium high. Add the diluted tomato paste and stir until bubbles form (the oil will likely separate). This takes around 30 seconds to one minute depending on the heat.
- Add 3 oz of curry base. Stir until bubbles form (little craters really), around 30 seconds. Watch the edges of the pan. The curry can stick here.
- Now add 6 oz of curry base and stir briefly. Let it cook until the bubbles form again. This takes 1-2 minutes.
- Add the rest of the curry base and let cook until the bubbles form. Turn the heat down to low and pre-cooked keema.
- Let the curry simmer for about 5 minutes. If it gets too thick add a bit more curry base. Don't add water.
- Add the thawed peas and cook another 2-3 minutes to warm the peas through.
- Stir in the lemon juice, taste and adjust salt and lemon to taste.
- Garnish with sliced red chili if you like.
The recipe for curry base is here.
The recipe for indian restaurant spice mix is here.
The recipe for garlic ginger paste is here.
The recipe for beef or lamb keema is here.
If you haven't read about Indian restaurant technique yet, do that before you start cooking.
Have all your ingredients prepped and ready to go.
If you are making multiple curries, have your curry base warming in a pot on the stove. If you are just making one, microwave it to warm it up right before you start cooking.
Indian restaurants pre-cook their meat so it's ready for service. This recipe assumes the same. To pre-cook chicken, simply simmer it with a bit of curry powder and salt in chicken stock for about 10-15 minutes - until it's barely cooked.
To pre-cook lamb or beef, do the same but plan for 1 to 1/2 hours for lamb and 2 hours or more for beef. You are making stew meat so you are braising until tender. You will need to keep an eye on the level of the stock. For beef use beef stock.