Keema (Indian Curried Peas and Ground Red Meat)




Introduction: Keema (Indian Curried Peas and Ground Red Meat)

I created a slide show with detailed captions to go with this, so if you want to SEE more, it is here:

This is my sister Julie's favorite dish that I make. Our parents both made it when we were growing up, they got the recipe from their music teacher when we lived in India (I was a baby). I have modified it over the years, but it's a basic Indian curry. Once you get the basics down you can modify it to suit vegetarian, egg, fish or just about any ingredients.

Here's the recipe:


2 lbs ground red meat (lamb is traditional, beef is easier to buy).

1 large bag of frozen peas

2 medium yellow onions

2 lg tomatoes

1 bunch fresh cilantro

thumb sized piece of fresh ginger, grated

half a bulb of fresh garlic (about 6-9 cloves) --finely chopped

3-6 fresh green chilies (Serrano work well)
4 fresh jalapeños
(if you love super spicy and want an added optional kick, you can also drop a few whole chilies in for garnish and to give people the choice to increase the heat in their own dish)

1/4 cup oil

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp curry powder

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

2 tsp salt

1 tsp black pepper

1 heaping tbs finely ground turmeric powder

2 heaping tbs garam masala mixture

1/4 tsp ground asofoetida (optional)
1/4 tsp fenugreek powder (optional)


If using whole spices dry toast them in a frying pan (one at a time) on medium heat until you get a hint of smoke and the scent is obvious. Then grind them in a mortar and pestle or spice mill/coffee grinder.

Measure out all your dry spices onto a plate (this is always visually fun)

Chop the onions into fine crescent slices if using a knife, if a food processor, just slice as thinly as possible. I use a 2mm slicing blade when I use mine.

Grate the ginger (I use a microplane)

Mince/finely chop the garlic

Mince/finely chop the green chilies
(If you are cooking for children or people who don't like really spicy food, remove the seeds and cores first).

On medium heat put the oil in the bottom of your pan and when hot add the onions. Stir until translucent.

Add fresh garlic, ginger, and green chilies and mix well. Simmer for about five minutes, stirring regularly.

Add dry spices and mix until all spices are incorporated into a dense goop. Keep stirring and when it starts to stick to the bottom of the pan, add a little water and keep stirring, scraping the bottom regularly and reducing it until it begins to stick again. Repeat adding water, about half a cup or so,
cooking it off, and then once more (three reductions total). This should take about fifteen minutes or so.

Now pour this mixture into a bowl so you can use the pan to brown your ground meat.

Add a teaspoon garam masala, salt and a teaspoon fresh ground pepper to the meat as it is browning.

Once its all browned you can add the onion mixture to it and stir well over medium heat for a few minutes and then add the frozen peas and stir that up. Let this all simmer for a few more minutes, allowing the peas to eat thoroughly.

Chop cilantro and sprinkle half over the pan and save half to sprinkle over plates.

Serve with plain yoghurt and chapatis (or tortillas!). You can also serve this over rice.

Step 1: Prepare Your Self and Your Environment

READ THE RECIPE all the way to the end so you know what you are getting involved in and there are no surprises. Print it if you can't be online in the kitchen. Clean your kitchen.

Step 2: Gather and Prepare

gather ingredients and do any prep work you think would make this go smoother for you.

wet ingredients: chop, grate, slice according to recipe

dry spices: measure, toast and grind(unless you use pre-ground) all onto a small dish

Step 3: Cook

cook onions, spices, meat, tomatoes, peas... all in that order (follow recipe)

Step 4: Heat Up Flat Bread

chapatis or tortillas or nan or roti or puris or whatever you have or can make...

if ready made, heat on griddle, in skillet, toaster oven, oven, broiler or as I do, over the open flame of my gas range

Step 5: Serve and Eat It Up!

add some plain yoghurt and sprinkle the cilantro over the top and serve

Step 6: Clean Up After Yourself!

clean up your kitchen. respect your tools. actually you should be cleaning as you go so you have minimal to deal with after dinner.


If you happen to have any leftovers and want something slightly different, you can pack it in a pie, mini turnovers, fila or whatever you have handy. I didn't photograph the steps for this because I wasn't thinking of adding it, but while I was eating it I thought, hey, I should put this at the end, so here it is!

I just used regular pie crust and a tart pan to make this keema pastry sandwich.

The obvious:
Make (or buy) pie dough, roll it out, put one layer in the bottom of your pie dish or cake pan.
Spread leftover keema on the bottom evenly. Even a very thin layer will make a tasty snack.
Place the top crust on and pinch the sides all around.
Cut several vent holes in the top.
Bake at 375* for about 25-30 minutes, until golden brown.
Remove from oven and let cool for at least 15 minutes.

Enjoy the scrumtrillescent delightfulness you have created!

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    10 years ago on Introduction

    I made this last night and it was a hit! Only thing I did differently was used Red Chilles! Thanks!!!


    Directions were easy to follow and the results were tasty! I can't wait to try it again. Great stuff!

    Its pronounced "kheema", which in Hindi means finely chopped or ground. :)


    Reply 13 years ago on Introduction

    Hey, thanks for that translation, I didn't know that! After spending many years traveling in India I did learn that spelling (when using English alphabet anyway) is very flexible. I remember seeing shawl spelled in the following ways, which cracked me up: SHALL SHOWAL SHAWALL SHOWL SHALE SHAWL SHAWAL And those were only the ones I thought to write in my journal! I also remember from one menu in Puri the items "plane amlete" and "shoops". They were of course a plain omelette and soup.


    Reply 13 years ago on Introduction

    Well, these are abberations in pronunciation of english words.They have slowly degraded from shawl to shawal or shall.:) And the funny thing is each type of pronunciation of degraded English words is different in each part of the country because different languages facilitate the tongue to make only certain sounds.For example in the easter part of India you will find people replacing all V's with B's, this is because their mother tongue has probably not trained them to make the "Va" sound.:) Besides Kheema is a Hindi word (also Telugu, Tamil, Marathi, and lots more languages), so there is note much variation in pronunciation. :) The plane amlate thing is hilarious though.:)


    Reply 13 years ago on Introduction

    Isn't language fascinating? My 16 month old nephew is talking up a storm right now and hi still has trouble with some sounds. For example all of his S sounds come out as F sounds, so he says things like "Fox off!" instead of "socks off" and he loves to eat "rife" "ife" (rice and ice). He also has trouble with the word clock, he leaves the L out, and he loves clocks, so the other day we were at the library and he sees the huge clock on the wall and yells out excitedly "COCK! COCK!" It was hilarious, and thankfully the other library patrons found it amusing too.