There are so many different types of curries in the world that it’s possible to have a different curry every single night for a year. This particular curry, keema, comes from Pakistan and falls into the mild category, although it can easily be made spicier to suit. It features ground meat, potatoes, onions and peas with a tomato gravy to tie everything together.
Curries typically feature vegetables and/or meat in some sort of gravy; a little or a lot depending on the region. The gravy may be red, yellow or green depending on the kind. The spice blends range in heat from mild to make-your-eyeballs-sweat spicy (I’ve actually experienced this when I tried an innocent sounding dish called Singapore Noodles). There are as many spice blends and pastes for curries as there are cooks who make them. For our keema, we’re going to use a commercially prepared curry blend supplemented with a couple other spices you probably already have.
We had other types of stews when I was growing up, but the idea of serving a something like a curry would not have occurred to my mother. For one, it would have been strange to serve potatoes and rice on the same plate. Besides, at the time, Mexican food (as interpreted by Old El Paso) or Chinese (as interpreted by Chun King) was the limit in “foreign food.” If the same is true for you, you’ll find keema to be a great introduction to the world of curry and its myriad variations.
Keema has a special place in my kitchen as it was the first curry I made at home. I liked that none of the ingredients were terribly exotic, although I had to go out and buy some of the spices for the first one I made. Now they’re all staples. It’s traditionally made with ground lamb, but the keema shown in the photos is the only one I’ve made with lamb. I loved the flavor, but to me it’s not worth the difference in price versus other ground meats. The price was also one reason I didn’t use one of the patties shown, the other being portion control. If you want to go meatless, substitute cauliflower or chickpeas (or both) for the meat.
I’ve seen versions of keema which use a yogurt/tomato gravy, but I’ve stuck with the first version I encountered through Spark Recipes. Fresh tomato and fresh ginger will make an incredible difference in the taste, but aren’t strictly necessary. I used frozen peas from my freezer stash and recommend them as fresh peas will take over the taste in my experience and canned peas will tend to turn to mush.
- ¾ pound - 1 pound ground meat
- 1 large onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
- olive oil for sauteing
- 2 cups crushed tomato (fresh or canned...you'll need more sauce if using fresh tomatoes)
- ½ cup tomato sauce or ¼ cup tomato paste (adjust as necessary)
- 2 cups diced potatoes (about 3 fist sized potatoes or equivalent)
- 1 or 2 carrots peeled and chopped into bite sized pieces
- 1 cup frozen peas (two large handfuls)
- ½ cup raisins or chopped dates (optional but delicious)
- Cooked rice, pasta, cauliflower rice, naan, etc (we served ours over rice)
- pinch red pepper flake (optional)
- 1 tablespoon curry powder (your favorite)
- 1 teaspoon each cinnamon, turmeric, ground ginger, ground cumin
- salt and pepper
- Using a large dutch oven or similar sized pot, brown the meat and the onions together in a little olive oil. Add some red pepper flakes at this stage if desired. Drain the fat and return to the pan.
- Season with the curry powder and other spices.
- While over medium heat, add the potatoes and carrots and give a good stir to coat with the spices and fat.
- Add the tomatoes, any juices and tomato sauce/paste. Add water if necessary to increase the amount of gravy (some will cook away while the curry simmers).
- Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to low and cover. Continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, until the carrots and potatoes are cooked through. Taste and adjust the seasoning, add more tomato sauce, etc.
- When the potatoes are about halfway cooked, stir in the peas and raisins.
- If serving over rice or pasta, start when the peas are added. The keema will hold while they cook.
- Store leftovers in the fridge for about a week. Add a little water to loosen the gravy before reheating.
Are you a curry lover like me? What’s your favorite kind? I’m not sure I have a favorite, but I’m most fond of the creamy tropical curries which use coconut milk.
[bctt tweet=”Curry lover, or curry newbie? Try keema. It’s easy to make and as mild or spicy as you like it!”]