lamb keema matar – 30 minute lamb curry

Lamb keema matar. Never heard of it? That’s a shame. Because it’s crazy delicious.

Lamb. Spices. A rich sauce. And a serving of vegetables built in. Peas in fact. May sound strange. But it works. Really, really well.

And you can make it in 30 minutes. From a standing start. That’s just good living. I think anyway.

Lamb keema matar is a dish you should be making

Everybody’s heard of chicken tikka masala. Butter chicken. Lamb saag. These are the safe choices. Tasty.

Really tasty. But maybe a little conventional. Uninspired. If that’s your thing then stop reading now.

But if you want to stretch a little? Put a toe outside your comfort zone? Give your tastebuds a treat? Then you really should try lamb keema matar.

It’s a glebekitchen house favourite. Has been for years. It’s the one that gets requested the most. Along with restaurant chicken biryani. You should try that too.

Keema means ground meat in Hindi. Matar is peas. Keema matar. Ground lamb with peas. In a lush restaurant gravy.

And if you really hate peas just leave them out. this one is pretty amazing without them. Keema curry. That’s a thing too.

Restaurant results without the fuss

Ever wonder why your curries never turn out like the ones that you get at your favourite local? There’s a reason. A good one.

Almost every recipe on the internet uses traditional Indian techniques. Restaurants don’t. Simple as that. They have a different approach.

Restaurants use an onion gravy as the foundation of their dishes. That’s the trick. Why you can’t get your curries to taste like theirs.

They call it base gravy. Or curry gravy. They make huge pots of it. There’s a whole section full of recipes doing it just like the restaurants. Exactly like the restaurants.

Takes time though. A lot of prep. A few techniques to master.

If you want to go deep you can read about Indian restaurant curry at home. It’s a whole new world.

Or you can make this. It comes very close. Without the work. Curry gravy in 10 minutes. That’s what makes this weeknight cooking.

Up to you. Make curries twice a week? Every week? Full blown restaurant technique is for you.

Tight on time? Only make a couple curries a month? The 30 minute approach is probably a better bet.

Cook the lamb then make the keema matar

That’s a counter-intuitive statement. If you’ve been cooking Indian for a while you know. There’s a lot of braising going on in an Indian kitchen. A lot.

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

“Ready to order?”

“Yes, thank you. I’ll have the lamb curry please”.

“Excellent choice. That will be 95 minutes. Would you like a cocktail in the meantime?”

Pre-cooked proteins. That’s how Indian restaurants roll.

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

This is a busy 30 minutes

This isn’t the simplest of curries. There’s a lot of moving parts. I can do it in 30 minutes. On a good day. And I don’t have to stop to check the recipe.

So maybe budget 40 minutes. This isn’t a race. Better to burn an extra 10 minutes and have fun. Nobody needs stress in the kitchen.

Or think about prepping the keema the night before. That works too. Makes this recipe a breeze. An easy 30 minutes. 22 minute lamb keema matar even.

Want really easy? Prep the onion paste ahead of time. That makes it a 15 minute dish. Perfect for a dinner party.

A couple curries. A fancy pilau rice if you feel like showing off. Maybe a nice green salad to start. That’s an easy night in the kitchen. Easy and impressive. Who doesn’t want that?

Try keema matar

30 minute keema matar. Lamb with peas. Fast. Delicious. Restaurant results. It just works.

If you’ve made it this far I’m guessing you are ready to broaden your horizons. Try this dish. You may wind up liking it as much as I do. That wouldn’t be a bad thing at all…

Keema matar and rice from above
Nearly restaurant keema matar with rice and chapati from above.
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5 from 9 votes

lamb keema matar

Keema matar a lamb curry you need to try.
Course Main
Cuisine Indian
Keyword keema matar, lamb curry
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 444kcal
Author romain | glebekitchen

Ingredients

The onion paste

  • 2 cups onions – coarsely chopped
  • 2 tbsp neutral oil – think canola, safflower, vegetable…
  • 1 cup water

The keema

  • 12 oz ground lamb
  • 2 tbsp neutral oil
  • 1 black cardamom – black is not the same as green. Just leave it out if you can't get it.
  • 1 Indian bay leaf – called tej patta (optional but tasty if you can get it)
  • 2 inch cassia bark – cinnamon bark
  • 2 tsp garlic ginger paste – you can buy it but it is so much better if you make it yourself
  • 1/2 tsp kasoori methi – aka fenugreek leaves
  • 2 tsp madras curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt – use about half this much if you are using table salt
  • 2 tsp tomato paste – diluted in about two tablespoons of water
  • 2/3 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 the lamb fat thrown by the keema – make it up to 4 tbsp with neutral oil if you don't have enough from the lamb
  • 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

Make 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.

Make the keema

  • Start your keema as soon as the onions go into the microwave.
  • Pre-heat your skillet over medium heat.
  • Add the oil. Once it starts to shimmer add the bay, cardamom if using and cassia bark. Cook until little bubbles form around the spices – about 30 seconds.
  • Add the garlic ginger paste. Cook until the sizzling stops. This should take less than a minute.
  • Reduce heat to medium low and stir in the kasoor methi, madras curry powder and salt. You want the spices and oil to be fully combined. Homogenous is a good way of thinking about it. Cook for around 30 seconds.
  • Turn the heat back up to medium. Add the diluted tomato paste. Stir to combine. Again homogenous is a good word. Cook for about 30 seconds.
  • Add the lamb. Break it up and cook until it no longer looks raw then add the water.
  • Continue to cook until the water has evaporated. This should take about 10 minutes.
  • While the lamb cooks use the time to finish making the the onion paste. Do your prep. Cook your peas. Measure out your spices. Dilute the tomato paste.
  • When all the water has evaporated remove the lamb from the pan and set aside. Keep the lamb fat in the pan. Lamb fat is delicious. Seriously.

Make keema matar

  • 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 the lamb fat you saved from the keema in a large skillet. If you don't have 4 tbsp add a bit of neutral oil.
  • 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

20 thoughts on “lamb keema matar – 30 minute lamb curry”

  1. just a heads up, i’m making this at the moment. add the Bay…… not in the list of ingredients.
    Just an observation. You know I love your recipes.

    Reply
  2. 5 stars
    Hi Romain, it’s been too long since I made Keema last! And as I have mentioned before, I’m a huge fan of your “nearly restaurant 30 minute curry” series. “Nearly restaurant” only in the sense that restaurant is worse. Pure genius! So I knew this was going to be good. Still it surprised me just how good it was!!

    Reply
  3. Hi Romain, if I want to double this, should I make two identical versions side by side?

    Also, re the pressure cooker discussion, I’ve found that cooking under pressure really brings out the flavor of spices somehow. Maybe it’s the extreme heat. I’ve cooked curries on the stove and in an electric pressure cooker, always blooming my spices in oil and intensely frying. The dish that’s been subjected to a few minutes of high pressure seems to have a depth of flavor the stovetop version lacks. Could be an interesting experiment?

    Reply
    • I think if you have a big skillet and cook the onion paste a little longer you should be OK doubling this. Re: the pressure cooker that is an interesting observation. I am just starting a new series but when I get some of that content up I’ll start playing with this. I’m always learning!

  4. 5 stars
    Hi
    I have made this for the first time with precooked Keema and so amazed at the flavour of the finished dish. After my second little taste I though how nice this would Beas a Curry…! So I precooked some potatoes added them to the dish and enjoyed some as a Curry for my dinner it was amazing with a few chapatis ( no rice ). Thank you

    Reply
  5. Wow, your recipe really turned out to be so pretty and tasty I could not believe that I had made such a delicious recipe even my husband appreciated me and I really felt so good. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe.

    Reply
  6. 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.

    Reply
  7. 5 stars
    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.

    Reply
    • 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!

    • 5 stars
      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.

  8. 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!

    Reply
    • 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!

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