Whenever I am about to go back to Karachi my mother always asks me what I want to eat when I get home. The answer always is "qeema paratha" which usually prompts my mother to say "you're your fathers' daughter; he also wants qeema all the time". Frankly I am not picky - I would accept Aloo Keema too as a first breakfast.
It is true. I regularly crave a ghar ka keema. I don't mean bihari style keema, or galawat ka keema or any of those other varieties that are commonly found in restaurants: I mean the kind of keema that mama's make. To say that it has been my nemesis thus far may sound dramatic, but it is true. A Pakistani girl's gotta have Aloo Keema you know.
Aloo Keema Woes
Ground beef here doesn't taste the same and it certainly doesn't smell the same. In fact some times it smells pretty darn icky. It has taken considerable trial and error and even the occasional chucking of the final product to get me to a place where I am happy with the end result. I don't even keep the achar (pickle) bottle handy any more - God knows a few spoonfuls of it has rescued many bad keemas!
Tips for Awesome Pakistani Aloo Keema:
- Keema can smell a little funky sometimes. To mitigate this unwrap the keema and leave it out on a plate to air out
- Use a wok or a nice big pan for your keema (see why right below!)
- Most of the flavour of keema comes from the "bhunn" which is the repeated sauteing of the meat, it is what browns the ground beef and what helps it absorb all the spices. Totally worth it to spend a few minutes doing this!
- Don't skimp on the oil while cooking. Instead once your keema is done tilt your bowl, press with a slotted spoon and drain some out. Or just eat it - I am not judgy.
- Fresh ginger is king. If you don't like the 'bits' as my kids call them use homemade paste, it beats the jarred stuff any day!
- Cooking half the cilantro and chilies with the meat is a bit unorthodox, but it really rounds out the flavor!
Want more Keema Recipes?
- Keema Chawal - a family favorite and so kid friendly!
- Chicken Karahi Keema
- Dum Ka Keema
- Chicken Keema with Matar
Pakistani Aloo Keema
- 1 lb lean ground beef
- ¼-1/3 cup vegetable oil
- 1 small diced onion
- 1 inch piece cinnamon
- 2-4 whole cloves
- 6-8 whole black peppercorns
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 ½ tbsp ginger (see notes)
- 1 ½ tbsp garlic
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp red chilli powder add more for a spicier qeema
- ¾ tsp coriander powder
- ¼ tsp turmeric powder
- 3 to matoes diced
- 1 large potato or 2 small - approximately 1 cup cut it into slim 2 cm big pieces
- 1 tsp of garam masala
- 3-4 chillies - sliced halved, or left whole
- ¼ cup chopped cilantro
- a few squeezes of lemon juice
- julienned or minced ginger (optional)
- Take your Keema out of the fridge and open up any packaging
- Warm a wok on medium heat and add your oil
- When the oil is hot add your whole spices - cumin seeds, black pepper, cloves, cinnamon - cook for about 30 seconds or until you can see the cumin seeds darken
- Add your diced onion and cook until the edges are golden brown
- Now stir in your ginger and garlic paste, saute for a minute
- Turn the heat up and add your keema, stirring it frequently to evenly brown the meat.
- Add all your spices except the garam masala and mix well.
- Saute your Keema on medium high heat until it becomes nicely browned - this takes a good 7-8 minutes.
- Now add your chopped tomatoes and potatoes, about 1.5 cups of water and bring the mix to a boil.
- Simmer until your potatoes are almost tender (varies across potatoes but usually 10 minutes is enough here) - I leave a tiny bit of a bite so that they don't overcook and fall apart as I dry mine out.
- Adjust the consistency of the Keema to your liking - adding more water for a more gravy like keema or drying it up.
- Now add your garam masala, a squeeze of lemon, half the diced chilies, half the cilantro, and additional ginger (if using). Give it a quick mix then adjust seasoning.
- Serve topped with remaining chilies and cilantro. I love it with roti/naan/paratha but you can eat it with rice as well.
- in this dish fresh ginger makes a HUGE difference, if you have the time then mince 2 tbsp of ginger by hand. You can then skip adding it at the end since it retains that nice feisty crunch