Keema Matar (ground meat and peas curry) is one of my favorite Indian dishes. Not only is it incredibly comforting but it’s also really quick and inexpensive to prepare. When I think I have nothing in the house to make for dinner, I almost always end up making Keema Masala. I mean, who doesn’t have a pound or two of ground meat stuffed some place in their freezer?
I used lamb. Traditionally, I believe, ground mutton or lamb is used; but you could also use ground beef, turkey, chicken or even venison to make this curry. This is really a versatile recipe, as most Indian recipes are, and the leftovers can be transformed into many different dishes.
Making curries and playing around with all the spices used in Indian cuisine can be quite intimidating. Because I want you all to make beautiful, delicious food and I’ve received a lot of emails asking me to post more detailed descriptions on how to make curries, I’m going to show you what I do, step-by-step.
I hope this helps, and if anyone has any other suggestions or questions please let me know! I want everyone to love Indian food as much as I do, so I’d love to help!
I remove my keema (ground meat) from the refrigerator before I start. If you don’t have ground meat, another–better–alternative would be to grind your own. You can do this by tossing your boneless meat in a food processor and blitzing it until it becomes a smooth, ground consistency.
It’s also important to get all your ingredients ready for cooking. The cooking can go pretty quickly and I’ve been known to burn spices or onions while trying to mince garlic or ginger. Burned spices can make a fabulous dish taste horrible…so be prepared!
And since I’m talking about ginger, I wanted to show you how I use fresh ginger. Dried or ground ginger is no good for Indian food, and I think the pre-minced ginger in a jar tastes weird. When I first started cooking, ginger freaked me out. What the heck does a 1″ piece of ginger look like and what are you supposed to do with it?
First, chop a knob off the fresh ginger root. If a recipe calls for 1″, chop off a 1″ piece. If my ginger is really thick, I’ll sometimes cut off a knob a little smaller than what the recipe calls for. Then, peel the knob of ginger using your knife or a spoon. Piyush likes to leave the peel on, it doesn’t hurt the recipe at all, so you can really do what you prefer.
I then cut the chunk of ginger into 4 pieces and smash it as I would a garlic clove. You can also slice it finely and mince it that way, but I’m too impatient for that. I smash and mince. Alternatively, you could also toss the ginger and garlic in a little food processor, but I don’t like to do more dishes than I have to…so this works for me.
After everything is ready, I grab my trusty dutch oven and get some oil heating up. I usually use olive oil, although it isn’t commonly used in India for making curries.
I like to use less oil, so usually about 1 or 1/2 tbsp works for me. Since I was using lamb, a pretty fatty meat, I stuck with that. If I was using chicken breast or any leaner meat, I’d have increased the oil a little more.
I tossed in a couple cardamom pods, pieces of cinnamon, dried red chilies, some bay leaves and some cumin seeds. Once the spices began to crackle a little, I knew it was time to tip in the onions.
Give everything a good mix and stir-fry everything together for about 3 minutes–until the garlic and ginger no longer smell raw and the spices become fragrant. This mixture should look rather dry and you may even notice a dark film forming on the bottom of the dutch oven.
At this point, the keema can be added into the pot, and everything can be mixed together really well.
Once the meat turns brown and is nearly cooked through, I add in some tomatoes. Because tomatoes aren’t in season right now and I think they are quite tasteless, I use some roma tomatoes I had canned last summer. About 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup is enough.
Keep cooking until the tomatoes begin to break down. At that point, tip in some frozen peas (you could also use potatoes) and cook with the lid off for about 10 minutes.
At this point, add some water. I add about a cup and a half, but I don’t really measure, to be honest. I also toss in a good handful of chopped coriander (cilantro). I don’t usually measure this either, just kind of go by taste.
I then cover the pot with it’s lid and let it simmer for a good hour. You wouldn’t necessarily have to do this, but it gives the meat time to mingle with the spices and it also helps to tenderize the meat–especially if you’re using a leaner meat.
Season the curry with a little salt and black pepper. Use your judgement when adding salt and always be sure to taste your food so you don’t add too much. I usually toss in about a teaspoon or so…I use my hand to measure. The onions dyed my hand a little, so my hands look a little funky:
Once the keema has cooked for a while, remove the lid and toss in a dollop of whipped yogurt. Stir everything well and allow some of the liquid to evaporate.
A more liquid curry would be awesome served with rice, whereas a drier curry would go great with chapatis or rotis. You could even toss some of the curry on a bun and enjoy Indian “sloppy joes!”
Keema Matar: Minced Meat Curry with Peas Recipe
- 1 tbsp. oil
- 1/2 tsp. cumin seed
- 3 green cardamom pods
- 2″ piece of cinnamon (I tear mine into two pieces)
- 1 medium, red onion- diced (about 1 to 1.5 cup)
- 4 cloves garlic- smashed and minced
- 1/2″ to 3/4″ piece fresh ginger- smashed and minced
- 3 dried red chilies (optional)
- 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 1/2 tsp. ground coriander
- 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp. turmeric
- 1/2 tsp. garam masala
- 1 pound ground meat (I used lamb)
- about 1/2 cup diced roma tomatoes (this can be omitted, if you prefer)
- 1 c. green peas (frozen works just fine)
- 1-1.5 cup water
- 2 tbsp. yogurt, whipped
- handful fresh coriander (cilantro), chopped
- salt- to taste
- pepper- to taste
- Allow your ground meat to come to room temperature and prepare all the ingredients. In a medium dutch oven or a heavy bottomed skillet with a lid add the oil and place over medium-high heat.
- Once the oil is hot, add the cumin seeds, cardamom pods, cinnamon, bay leaves and dried chilies. Once the seeds begin to crackle, toss in the diced onions.
- Cook until the onions begin to caramelize and turn a little brown. Then, add the minced garlic, ginger and dried spices. Once the garlic and ginger no longer smell raw and the spices are fragrant, tip in the ground meat.
- Allow the meat to brown, stirring occasionally. Once the meat is browned, add the tomatoes. Let the mixture cook for 10 minutes before adding the frozen peas, chopped coriander and some water. Cover the pot and allow to cook for at least 30 minutes and as long as an hour–checking often.
- Remove the lid and toss in the whipped yogurt. Give everything a good stir and allow the keema to cook with the lid off until the excess liquid begins to evaporate and it becomes the constancy you would like.
- Serve with rice or rotis and enjoy!