Oooh. Keema. Cue melting mouth and delightful visions. I like my keema mutter, rather than plain keema and prefer that it be made of mutton or lamb keema. Chicken keema though, always remains close second in choice. I will outline how I make keema in this post.
For Vegetarians – Follow the same steps as for non veg keema, just use Soyabean granules instead. In India the most popular (and tried and tested by me) is Nutrela Granules
While I love keema, I would rather not spend my lifetime in the kitchen making it. So here is a fast(er) way to cook some delicious, sinful Keema Mutter!
What you Need:
1. Meat – 500gm for 4 adults who eat well. Else 400gm should be enough (Nutrela granules – 250-300 gms is fine)
2. Onions – Lots! Take at least 2 large red onions, chopped or sliced
3. Tomatoes – Lots n Lots! Take at least 3large tomatoes, diced (Some people prefer it pureed, but I like the bits of red you can see in the finished product if its chopped. Plus, its easier and faster to dice than puree) I prefer to dice so that each tomato half yields 6 pcs
4. Peas/ Mutter – A fistful (fresh or frozen makes no difference)
5. Potato – One should be enough. Peeled and Diced. I like the variety in flavor a bit of potato provides. If you want to, skip it. I love it, so would always suggest its addition. If you dont want many solid pieces, chop it into smaller sized cubes.
1. Garam Masala – in all forms.
a) Khada / Sabut/ Whole Garam Masala – whole spices put together – some cloves, cinnamon, bay leaf (tez patta), whole black pepper, green cardamom
(take around 3 of each, and a 0.5 inch stick of cardamomm)
b) Powder Garam Masala – all the above in a mixed powder form. Perhaps curry powder will yield the same result
2. Haldi / Turmeric – the hallmark of any non-veg Indian cooking
3. Red Chili powder (as much hot as you can take. This dish is best served Spicy!) – 2tsp
4. Dhania powder (coriander powder) – 1.5 tsp
5. Jeera powder (cumin powder) – 1.5 tsp
6. Ginger-garlic paste (I use the readymade variety available off the shelf in any mall) – 2 tbsp
7. Salt (swad-anusar, as my father in law points out each time he is in the kitchen!)
If you are an Indian cook, all of these will be available in your kitchen at any given time so should not be an issue. Else, maybe you should stock up on these spices, as they are kind of regular in all Indian cooking.
1. Any ‘white’ oil like peanut or sunflower oil (will need just 2 table spoons, max). Don’t use anything with a strong smell.
2. Ghee / clarified butter – 1 teaspoon (you an skip it if you want, but it does impart awesome flavor. And its just 1 tsp anyway!)
Coriander leaves, also popularly known as Dhania Patta, de-stemmed, not chopped.
The Process in Short:
Keema -> Wash and drain water + haldi+Mirchi+Dhania powder+Jeera powder+Ginger Garlic Paste (one large pinch) ->mix & keep aside
In a Wok/ Kadai – Heat Oil+ Sabut garam masala+ Onion -> Stir till translucent or light brown + Potato -> Stir till coated in oil -> Add Keema mixture -> Stir till keema starts turning brown -> Cover, let cook till all keema is brown
After some time: Open Cover – Keema should have water released from it and brown in color + Tomatoes + ginger garlic paste +salt -> cover, cook + peas (5 mins before finished cooking)-> cook till meat is tender and done, and water has evaporated. If water is still there, let cook without cover for some time
Serving: Sprinkle cooked keema with garam masala powder and ghee, stir over low heat, garnish with dhania patta, serve
How to Cook (elaborate process):
1. The keema should be thawed and washed properly. Strain it through a thin meshed sieve multiple times to ensure its absolutely clean. Squeeze it as much as possible to get rid of the vestiges of water. This is because it will release water slowly throughout the process anyway
For Nutrela, prepare the granules as instructed and leave them moist
2. Mix in turmeric, cumin, coriander, red chili powders and a large pinch (around an inch) of ginger garlic paste. Coat the keema properly in this mixture, till it looks yellow-red thanks to the turmeric and chili. Keep this aside for marination – around 15- 20 mins should be enough!
(Nutrela does not need to marinate)
3. In a pan heat some (1.5 to 2tablespoons) sunflower or peanut oil. To the hot oil add the bay leaves (two medium sized ones) and the rest of the whole garam masalas. Make sure to remove the top from the cloves and split open the cardamoms . Else they will pop in the hot oil and cause blisters on your skin
4. Add in the onions to the oil now, and stir over medium to low heat. You can stir them once in a while, just to ensure they dont burn or caramelize. Constant stirring is best, but it wastes precious time! I just keep them on low heat till they turn translucent. Just stir them once every minute to ensure they don’t stick to the pan bottom
4. Add in potatoes. Stir till they are coated in the oil/onion mixture properly. Not seared.
5. Add in the keema mix. Sear it – that is, stir it around till most of it has turned dark brown in color due to the hot oil
(Note: If you started the process with making the keema mix, and then looking for the spices, 10 mins should have passed by now. This should save you the time of sitting around twiddling thumbs while the keema marinates.)
6. Add in some more ginger garlic paste and red chili (if you want), cover and let cook on medium heat (skip this step for Nutrela unless you want more chili). Add the salt here.
7. After around 3-4 minutes, open the lid, stir around the mixture, there should be juices released from the meat (for Nutrela add water) and the keema should have turned brown overall. In this, add the tomatoes and stir them in well, cover and let cook. Do other important stuff like painting your nails.
8. After around 8-10 minutes (lesser for Chiken) open the lid and add in the frozen or fresh peas. Cover and let cook! The reason the peas are added later is becuase they take so little time to cook. If you are impatient, you can add them in with the tomatoes – the only risk then is that they may mash into the keema. Adding in peas later is a little more attention and effort than an ideal scenario, but its worth it! For Nutrela, add in peas with the tomato.
Just keep checking once in a while. It should be done soon enough – when the meat is tender. Meanwhile you can start calling everyone to the table, or set it, or catch up on your TV serials. The keema can be checked on during the ads.
My Punjabi family side takes ages to assemble. While they love food, to get them to reach the food on time is an art which needs perseverance and patience. Even in a family of four, all four can never b e found together. I make it a point to start assembling them when the dish is 80% done. This ensures they are more or less around when I am ready to serve. Saves me the effort of re-heating a cold dish!
Before serving – turn on low heat, sprinkle some garam masala powder and ghee and stir. Add some coriander leaves and serve!
Its delicious with Parathas, or paav (buns) or kulchas.
My mother in law prefers to cook the onions till oil separates, then to keep this keema on heat till it is completely brown, then put it in a pressure cooker, then simmer it to then reduce it to apt dryness. This method is slower, takes around 2 hours, and believe me, tastes just the same! I prefer this 30-40 minute process.
Note: The more the meat, the longer it takes to cook. Nutrela takes very little time, so keep an eye on it! Chicken keema cooks much faster than mutton or lamb keema.