Keema is a delicious way to spice up ground lamb or beef. If you want to add some big Indian flavour to ground meat this is how.
Keema means ground meat in Hindi. It can be any ground meat. Lamb, beef, goat or even chicken.
So it probably doesn’t help that this recipe is named the way it is. Not so precise. But I didn’t name it. I just cook it.
Think hamburger helper done right. Beef or lamb with a nice dose of spice. Just enough to make sure it’s perfect when you use it in a curry. Or as a filling to some crazy tasty Indian appetizers.
Keema is incredibly versatile
You can serve keema straight up with Indian flatbreads. It’s a dry curry so it works. Makes a fun meal. A little spiced lamb and some cucumber salad on a paratha. That’s good living.
You could even use it as pre-cooked meat in most of the Indian restaurant style recipes on this blog. Keema madras or jalfrezi. Maybe not conventional. But tasty. Very, very tasty.
Jalfrezi really works well. Could become a thing. Peppers and onions mixed with savoury ground meat. Like an Indian twist on chili. Totally different flavours though.
Don’t bring it to a chili cook off. People won’t understand. Their loss…
Restaurant style technique
This is an easy recipe. But there’s a couple of things to keep in mind. Be ready with your prep. Have everything ready before you start cooking.
Measure out your spices. Have all the ingredients by the stove. It goes fast. So be ready.
Blooming the spices is key. To Indian cooking in general. And to this recipe as well. Blooming spices just means frying the spices in oil.
Something wonderful happens when you do that. Everything opens up. You know the aroma you smell when you walk past an Indian restaurant? That’s what happens when you bloom spices.
So don’t skimp on the oil. You need it to keep the spices from burning. Frying spices is not the same thing as scraping burnt spices in a dry pan. You don’t ever want to try that. So add enough oil. Trust me on that.
Lamb or beef
This recipe works well with beef or lamb. I like lamb better. But go with what you like.
Lamb is a little richer tasting. More complex. Beef is just in your face delicious. Don’t make it with lean beef though. You need a bit of extra fat for flavour. Nobody wants dry, crumbly keema.
Whatever you choose, try not to break it up too much. Little chunks is way better than micro-grains.
How’s that for a description? Micro-grains of meat. Not appetizing sounding is it? I think I’ve made my point. Chunks good. Micro-grains. Not so much.
Spice your keema properly
This recipe is written to be used in another dish. As an ingredient. For samosas. Or in a curry. It’s a little under spiced to stand on its own.
If you’re using it straight up you need to up the spice. Maybe add some chili powder. Wake it up. That’s covered in the notes. Just up the quantities and you’re good to go.
You can take it even further if you want. Toss in a little green chili along with the garlic ginger paste. Cilantro. Diced fresh tomatoes.
Nobody will come to arrest you. The keema police are busy elsewhere. Do what works for you.
Have fun with this recipe. It’s hard to go wrong. So make it your own. You may surprise yourself.
lamb or beef keema
- 12 oz minced beef or lamb
- 2 Tbsp oil
- 1 bay leaf – Indian tej patta if you can get it
- 1 black cardamom – whole, split
- 1-2 kashmiri chilies
- 2 inch piece cassia bark – cinnamon stick
- 2 tsp garlic ginger paste – recipe link below
- 1/2 tsp kasoor methi – fenugreek leaves
- 2 tsp madras curry powder e.g Lalah’s brand
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 tsp tomato paste – diluted with water to the consistency of pasatta
- 2/3 cup water
- Pre-heat your skillet over medium heat.
- Add the oil. Once it starts to shimmer add the bay, cardamom, kashmiri chilies and cassia bark. Cook until little bubbles form around the spices – about 30 seconds.
- Add the garlic ginger paste and cook until the sizzling subsides.
- Reduce heat to medium low and stir in the kasoor methi, madras curry powder and salt. This is called blooming the spices and it's absolute magic. You should do this every time you cook Indian.
- Cook, stirring constantly for about 30 seconds.
- Mix in the tomato paste, stir to combine and cook about 30 seconds.
- Add the beef or lamb, breaking up any big chunks and cook until all the meat is brown. If you are using it as a filling (e.g. samosas) break it up completely. If you are serving it in a curry consider leaving the chunks a little bigger. It's a small thing but it does make a difference.
- Add the water and simmer uncovered for about 10 minutes until cooked through. The curry should be dry again. Almost all the liquid will have evaporated by this point.
- Use a slotted spoon to remove the keema from the pan leaving most of the fat behind. Much easier than trying to spoon fat out of the pan with keema in the way.
- Taste and adjust for salt if needed.