Add a spoonful of yoghurt to give the dish a creamier texture.
Matar Keema, a spicy and savoury dish made with minced meat and matar (dried peas), is a quick and easy to make meal that can act as a main course or a side dish.
A dish that somewhat has a bad reputation amongst the gastronomic community, keema is a hearty, flavourful dish that neatly fills the desire for comfort food on a cold day, and is perfect for sharing.
DESIblitz cooks up one variance of this dish to show you just how easy it is to prepare, using mostly ingredients you will already have at home.
Matar Keema (serves 4, prep time 15 minutes, cooking time 20-25 minutes)
- 500g of minced meat – lamb or beef
- 250g of dried matar (substitute with frozen peas, for convenience)
- 2 tomatoes finely chopped
- 1 large onion, diced
- 6 cloves
- 1/2 tsp garam masala
- 3/4 tsp chilli powder
- 1/4 tsp cumin seeds
- 1/4 tsp turmeric
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp coriander powder
- 1 tsp ginger paste (or 1 inch fresh ginger, finely diced)
- 1 tsp garlic paste (or 2 cloves fresh garlic, finely diced)
- Add the cumin seeds to the oil and heat in a large pan for about 30 seconds. You should hear them ‘pop’. Then add the cloves.
- Add the garlic and ginger paste or fresh garlic and ginger.
- Add the the chopped onions to the pan until translucent and lightly browned.
- Add the chopped tomatoes and spices, cook until the water from the tomatoes dissipates. Some recipes as a preference do leave out the tomatoes for a more spicy keema.
- Add the spices – paprika, garam masala, turmeric, chilli powder and coriander powder
- Mix in the minced meat, and cook until dry. You should see the oil surface during the process.
- Add 100ml of water, cover the pan and cook on a medium heat until the meat is tender and the water has dried up. For a drier keema, you may leave out the water.
- Add the matar and cook until soft. The matar can be replaced with frozen garden peas, but rinse and dry before putting them in to avoid excess water.
- Once the matar are soft, chopped chillis, fresh coriander and/or lemon juice and serve with rice, naan or fresh roti.
With the exception of perhaps the minced meat, the ingredients of this matar keema recipe are all staples of any Desi household. Affordable, robust and malleable to a number of spice profiles, the dish has an unsurprising elasticity when it comes to different combinations.
Spice lovers can jazz it up with chopped green chillies, fresh coriander or chilli flakes with ease. Add a spoonful of yoghurt to give the dish a creamier texture. Double the quantity of tomatoes to give the dish that fresh flavour and familiar texture.
What’s great about the spice mix of this dish is that while the familiar spice blends of cumin, garam masala and the like fit well into one coherent mix, the presence of the cloves almost throws your taste buds off course.
Every few bites of the dish sends a burst of anis that permeates the dish without overpowering it.
India’s relationship with keema has been problematic. Its reputation as a dish you cook to get rid of the poorest quality parts of an animal is not unfounded, and you won’t find this often on restaurant menus.
The use of minced meat means that this isn’t a particularly healthy dish either. You can cook the mince beforehand if you prefer, draining off any excess fat, but in doing so the meat doesn’t absorb the flavours from the spice as easily.
The fat content of matar keema isn’t actually all that different to other South Asian recipes, but it gives the impression of being more because of the way that the minced meat’s fat renders into the dish, rather than remaining within the meat as it does with dishes that use thicker cuts.
The mince is the most important aspect of this dish, and can make or break it. If you are mincing your own meat, use a good quality cut, preferably one with good fat marbling.
Pre-made mince is an easier option, however, and you can substitute beef for pork or turkey if you prefer a leaner meat.
If you are a fan of Keema Naan, like many of us are, reduce the amount of water you cook the mince in, or cook for longer to make sure that the water is absorbed well, otherwise you’ll end up with a soggy naan, and no one wants that.
Matar Keema is an underrated gem, a dish that is only as good as the quality of its ingredients, but offers something substantial with very little effort.