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Keema matar is the curry you’ve never heard of. One that you really need to make. It’s the fastest way I know to get a lamb curry on the table. And I like lamb curry on my table.

It’s a house favourite. Has been for years. I probably make this curry more than most. But remember – there’s a lot of curries on this blog. So don’t think I make this once a week. I don’t make anything once a week.

Keema is ground meat in Hindi. Matar is peas. Keema matar. Ground lamb with peas. It’s way better than it sounds. Wrap it up in a lush restaurant style sauce and it’s good living.

Nearly restaurant keema matar

Almost all the recipes on the internet are traditional style. Even if they say restaurant style. Confused? You are not alone. Messed me up. Badly.

I struggled with this for years. So you don’t have to. Turns out it’s not ingredients. It’s technique. And the technique is completely different.

It’s clear on glebekitchen. If it says restaurant style it’s restaurant style. Done the way they do it in restaurants. If it doesn’t say restaurant style it’s traditional. Both are great. In their own ways. Depends what you’re after.

It’s not hard to cook restaurant style. Just need to get your head around it. Takes a lot of prep though. Can’t just come home after work and start from scratch. You have to walk the walk.

So I came up with nearly restaurant style. Restaurant like results. But fast enough to make in an evening. If you want to read more there’s a whole post on it.

Nearly restaurant keema matar scene with rice and dal from above.

Cook the lamb then make the curry

That’s counter-intuitive. Cooking Indian is cooking stews. Not just stews. That’s an over-simplification. But there’s a lot of braising going on in an Indian kitchen.

And traditional Indian cooking is no different from any other braise. It’s about cooking everything in one pot. Until it all comes together. One big pot of wonderful.

Restaurant style is different. They cook things separately. To order. Can’t sit around waiting for the lamb to cook with customers waiting.

Imagine that for a second.

“I’ll have the lamb curry please”.

“Excellent choice. That will be 90 minutes. Would you like a cocktail in the meantime?”

Crazy talk.

Pre-cooked keema is easy. And versatile. Takes 15 minutes. It’s tasty stuff. Great in curries. Great in samosas. Awesome on Indian flatbread.

And if you’ve never thought of it – crazy good with papadum. Try that some time. Recipe coming soon.

It pumps the lamb up with extra flavour. It’s not just a short cut. It’s building flavour.

Close-up of keema matar with a spoon from the front.

Have everything ready before you start cooking

Keema matar goes fast. Really fast. So have your onion puree made. Keema next to the stove. Measure out your spices. Dilute the tomato paste. Garlic ginger paste at the ready.

And wear old clothes. This is going to be messy. It will splatter. There’s turmeric in the mix. Turmeric and clothes are a really, really bad combination.

Have fun with it. You’re cooking like they do in restaurants. Almost. Get this technique down and you can make just about anything on the menu.

From here it’s a small jump to full blown restaurant cooking. You’ll need to learn about curry base. And to move really fast.

It’s a party trick. Once you learn restaurant or nearly restaurant technique you’ll amaze your friends. And probably yourself as well.

Nearly restaurant keema matar. Lamb with peas. It just works. If you are even a little bit adventurous try this dish. You may wind up liking it as much as I do. That wouldn’t be a bad thing at all…

Nearly restaurant keema matar with rice and chapati from above.
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5 from 2 votes

keema matar – nearly restaurant style

Keema matar is a deliciously spiced pea and ground lamb curry.
Course Main
Cuisine Indian
Keyword keema matar, lamb curry
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 444kcal
Author romain | glebekitchen

Ingredients

The onion paste

  • 2 cups onions – coarsely chopped
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 cup water

spice mix

  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp mild kashmiri chili powder
  • 1 tsp kasoor methi – dried fenugreek leaves
  • 1 tsp kosher salt – use a bit less if you are using table salt

keema matar

  • 12 oz lamb keema – the full amount of the recipe link below. You can take out the whole spices or not. Up to you.
  • 4 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 tbsp garlic ginger paste – see notes
  • the spice mix from above
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste plus enough water to dilute it to the consistency of tomato sauce
  • the onion paste from above
  • 1 tsp tamarind paste homemade or store bought
  • 1 cup peas

Instructions

The onion paste

  • Place the onions in a microwave safe dish and cover with cling wrap. Do yourself a favour. Punch a couple holes in the wrap to let the steam escape. Microwave at 70 percent until the onions are soft and translucent. This takes about 10 minutes in an 1100 watt microwave oven.
  • Remove the onions from the microwave. Be careful. They will be hot. Let them cool slightly. 
  • Place the onions, 2 tbsp vegetable oil and 1 cup of warm water in a blender and puree until smooth. This is your onion paste.

keema matar

  • Make the keema (see link below). You can do this the day before if you want to.
  • Cook the peas. If they are frozen microwave until warm. If they are fresh shelled peas, drop them into boiling salted water and cook until they turn bright green (probably a couple minutes if they are fresh). Check one. If you like them more done keep cooking until you get what you like.
  • In a small bowl, combine the cumin, coriander, turmeric, Kashmiri chili powder, kasoor methi and salt. This is your spice mix.
  • Heat 4 tbsp vegetable oil in a pot over medium heat until it shimmers.
  • Add the garlic ginger paste. Cook, stirring, until the garlic ginger paste stops spluttering. You'll see what I mean when you do it.
  • Turn the heat to medium low. Add the spice mix. Stir continuously until it starts to smell really good (about 30 seconds). This is called blooming the spices. It's a key Indian cooking technique. Watch it carefully. If it looks like it's sticking or burning lift the pan from the heat. If the spices burn you need to start over. No way around that.
  • Add the diluted tomato paste and stir to combine. Turn the heat up to medium. Cook for 1 minute.
  • Add half the onion paste and turn the heat up to medium high. Stir to combine. Cook for about a minute. Add the rest of the onion paste and stir again. Cook, stirring occasionally for about 4 minutes. Don't worry if it looks dry. You can add a bit of water at the end.
  • Turn the heat down to medium low. Stir in the tamarind paste. Cover and simmer for another 5 minutes. Add the pre-cooked keema. Simmer to heat the keema through. Add the peas. When the peas are warmed through you are good to go.
  • If the curry is a bit thick add a bit of water or chicken stock and stir. Taste for salt and adjust as needed.
  • Garnish with a of cilantro if desired.

Notes

Make your keema ahead of time and have it ready to go.
You can buy garlic ginger paste but it’s easy to make and homemade is way better. Here’s an easy recipe for garlic ginger paste. If you cook Indian fairly often it’s so worth it to whip up a batch. It will keep for a few weeks in the fridge.

Nutrition

Serving: 4servings | Calories: 444kcal | Carbohydrates: 14g | Protein: 35g | Fat: 28g | Saturated Fat: 18g | Cholesterol: 161mg | Sodium: 893mg | Potassium: 703mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 465IU | Vitamin C: 12mg | Calcium: 58mg | Iron: 3.2mg
An easier version of authentic pad thai cooked street food style.

10 thoughts on “keema matar – nearly restaurant style

  1. I’m going to ask you something and I want you to understand it is not meant to insult your brilliant hard work or dedication. It is perhaps an abomination but hey why not ask..if we were talking over coffee it might even come up in a simple conversation or not ..but I will,because it’s a trendy thought….this or any others done with ….wait for it………an instant pot?…there I said!

    • Haha. Thanks for the smile. I know they are super trendy but they don’t really align with my style of cooking. I’m more “flavour at any cost” than I am about “make my life easy in the kitchen”. I do love the fact that they get people into the kitchen and away from pre-fab/takeout food. That is just awesome.

      I am not a fan of slow cookers. I don’t even own one. I find all the flavour gets extracted from the protein into the sauce. It’s like making stock in my mind. I’m afraid I’m never going to post a recipe that uses a slow cooker.

      The pressure cooker function is another story. There are lots of Indian recipes out there that rely on pressure cookers, particularly for beef or lamb. If you’re in a rush they are good for pulses/dals as well. I don’t have any pressure cooker recipes posted (yet) but I will give that some thought. Thanks for the idea!

  2. Dear Romain,
    this is an excellent recipe. I made it yesterday, and it was the best Indian dish I ever made myself at home. Exactly the right texture, intense flavor and fresh – unreachable by using an instant pot from the supermarket. I have experimented quite a lot with many different recipes from the web, but I was never satisfied. With your recipe I was more than satisfied, can’t wait to try the next one. The only thing was the kosher salt. I just took the same amount of table salt. It was o.k., but the next time I will use less, because kosher salt is more rough. What I also discovered was blooming the spices. In other recipes I read that you have to heat the spices dry in a pan, even the ground ones. It always tasted bitter, with your method not at all! I also like that the onion paste is quite thick and not watery. And it is a big advantage that you do not put a big amount of water but only if necessary. I always thought that adding water can not be reversed, so if you add too much you end up with a watery curry. The Keema Matar was really yummy! Great job! Thanks a lot. Regards, Daniel.

    • Hi Daniel,

      Blooming spices in oil makes all the difference. I don’t know why people ever suggest ground spices in a dry pan. That’s terrible advice…

      So glad you liked it!

      • Liked it? We loved it! Tonight I made another one, chicken madras. I will put a reaction there. We talked about it the whole evening. Unforgettable! You’re a genious! Regards, Daniel.

        • What an awesome comment. Thank you! This is exactly why I do what I do here and it is incredibly gratifying when I get feedback like this. Thank you again.

  3. Hi Romain,
    Saturday night is ‘curry night’ in our house. I’m diligently working my way through your wonderful recipes (dopiaza is to die for) and the Keema matar is this weeks, absolutely delicious!
    Thank you so much for the time, effort and information that you put into each one.
    When friends come for dinner, they always request curry, they say that they’re even better than the restaurants.

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