Jump to the Dum ka Keema Recipe
There are foods that I think of as Paratha foods, the kinds where even the tenderest chapati does not have the same oomph. A good Dum ka Keema, spicy, smoky, heady punctured with the brightness of mint, the boldness of ginger, that just calls for parathas. It is the one dish that I will always eat at a dinner because there is something about this potent combination I find hard to resist. If there are parathas on the table then whose counting helpings. Definitely not me.
Dum ka Keema has long been on my culinary bucket list. That is my personal list of dishes that I want to learn how to make - from scratch, no spice mixes. I have no issue with spice mixes and admire how they have made many formerly unapproachable dishes accessible and expanded our cooking repertoires in the process.
For the longest time I was convinced Dum ka Keema is one of those dishes that I used to think you needed a spice mix for. I have since discovered that you can make it quite well with some spices and a grinder. Far less complicated than I thought it would be. I fry my own onions for this keema but if you have a trusted brand of pre fried onions that isn't coated in flour then go ahead and substitute those.
Dum ka Keema
- 2 lb ground beef or mutton
- 2 onions
- 3 tbsp besan
- 1 tbsp coriander powder
- 1 tbsp cumin seeds
- 6-8 whole peppers
- 3-4 cloves
- 2 black cardamom
- 3 green cardamoms
- 2 tbsp poppy seeds (optional)
- 1 ½ tbsp chilli flakes
- ½ tbsp red chilli powder
- 1 ½ tsp salt
- 1 cup yoghurt
- 3 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tbsp garlic paste
- 1 tbsp ginger paste
- 2 tbsp papaya paste
- 1 piece coal + a piece of foil
For the main dish
- 4-6 green chillies
- 3 inch ginger, halved, cleaned and julienned
- Thinly slice the onions and fry till golden brown, set aside to drain and roughly crush by hand
- Dry roast the besan, add the cumin seeds, coriander powder, cloves, black pepper, black cardamom, green cardamom to the mix and toast for another minute or two
- Add poppy seeds if using and grind your spices
- Mix the ground spices and the remaining marinade ingredients (ginger paste, garlic paste, chilli flakes, yogurt, chilli powder, lemon juice, papaya paste and salt) together. Add crushed onions to this mix
- Thoroughly mix the above into the meat, best to do this by hand, wearing gloves if you have them. Marinate overnight for best results
- Take the marinaded meat out of the fridge half an hour before cooking.
- Add a lug of oil to a heavy bottomed pan and begin to cook the meat mixture
- The mixture will release a great deal of liquid as it cooks, keep stirring and cooking on medium high heat for 10-15 minutes, the mixture will start to look cooked, add a splash of water if it sticks or more oil if needed
- Turn the heat down and cook covered for another 20 minutes on low heat, stirring frequently, the meat will look darker and richer
- Add most of the ginger, the slit green chillies, and a tsp of garam masala, cook for another few minutes, adjust seasoning with additional salt and lemon juice. You can adjust the consistency with water as well.
- Heat a piece of coal on your stove top (you can do this on a ceramic top as well, just takes longer) till it gets seriously ashy. Place a piece of foil in your pot of keema. Place the coal on the foil, souse with a little oil, smoke will start to billow. Shut the lid immediately. Leave till the smoke dissipates
- Serve with paratha or naan and garnished with sliced onions, mint leaves, lemon wedges, and ginger.
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Where does the yogurt go? In the marinade or while cooking?
Hi Sarah! It goes in the marinade! Happy cooking!
I marinated it overnight and cooked it before iftar yesterday and it was amazing. Thank you for the recipe.
Am SO happy you enjoyed this- ever since you commented on the recipe I have been craving it big time!!!!
Sarah K. says
I’m dying to try this but am confused by the onions. In step one I slice and fry the onions. Then In step four you say add crushed onions. Can you elaborate on proportions and what you mean by crush? Like into a paste?
Hi Sarah! I am so sorry for not replying sooner but basically you slice and fry them and once they cool they become crunchy and you can crush them by hand! Hope I am not too late on this - would love to hear your thoughts if you try it!
When you put the coal in do you turn off the heat?
Yes! Thanks for asking - hope you like the Qeema!
Sarah, I made this and it was so amazing! Your recipes are absolutely wonderful. Been meaning to comment to let you know! Thank you!!!
Wow thank you SO SO much Nafisa! I am thrilled to hear it!
Maria Waleed says
I made it for a dawat and omg it was amazing! Thank you so much! Its going to be a must in my brunch menu from now on!
Thank you so so much Maria, I am so happy to hear that 🙂
I'm tempted to try this recipe but my husband hates it anytime I fry onions!
I have the French's pre fried onions but one of the the ingredients is wheat flour. You mentioned using a "non flour coated" brand...wondering what the difference is and will that make have a big difference on the taste of the final product.
Hi Mona! I hear you loud and clear on the smell! The thing with the "coated" brands is that the flour will dissolve into the mix and it changes the texture. I far prefer the taste with non coated onions but I also understand (especially with food) that the heart wants what the hearts wants so totally go ahead and use what you have and I'd love to hear how it turns out!
Mrs Homera Iqbal says
What is a substitute of poppy seed ?
You can skip it entirely and it will work!
What beef qeema do you use? Lean? Extra lean? Fatty? 85-15? Please specify.
Hi! I always buy lean! you can get your butcher to grind it twice for a more pasty texture if you like!
I tried it for my colleagues and they loved it. I served it with puri and naan.
Thank you for trying it and I am so glad it worked out!
Hi! If I use chicken mince, would I still need to add meat tenderiser/papaya paste?
Sarah Mir says
Hey Mahvish! Yes you should, but halve it - otherwise you won't get that lovely slightly creamy dum ka keema flavour!
A family favorite and a must recipe for every lunch/dinner party. Always a hit with the guests
Sarah Mir says
That's so amazing to hear thank you!
Hi Sara, what's the substitute of papaya paste if we don't have it? Also, how long would it take to cook this in a pressure cooker?
Sarah Mir says
Hi Faiza! I can’t say I’ve tried it but I know people who have used 1 tbsp of a meat tenderizer powder. Re: pressure cooker I’m not sure and I don’t want to lead you astray but ill test it and report back!
Hi can I substitute besan with another flour?
Sarah Mir says
Hi! I don't think so - is there a reason why you are looking to avoid besan?
This recipe gained the distinction of 'top keema of my life' from hubby the last time I made it! Always turns out great.
For the record, I use:
- lean keema (80/20)
- 0% Greek yogurt in the marinade
- around 1 tbsp of oil to cook the keema
- a generous tbsp of ghee on the koyla
- and my mom tells me it is imperative to toast the poppy seeds 🙂
Also Sarah, I'm not sure what kind of chili flakes / chili powder you have haha, but I had to dial it down to 1 tsp chili flakes and 1/4 tsp chili powder and it was pleasantly spicy. 1/2 tsp chili powder would give it a nice kick. If I used as much as in the recipe we would all be 🔥!
Sarah Mir says
Now that is an honour! Also thank you for sharing what you used - this is incredibly helpful I am sure to so many people! RE: My mirch tolerance, it's not low for sure!
Hi I made it but I added to much yogurt and now it’s too mushy. Any tips on what I can do to make it better?
Sarah Mir says
Hi there! You can probably sauté a good chunk of the wateriness of the yogurt out. Then I’d taste it and see what adjusting it needs - my guess is it’ll be a little tart unless your yoghurt is sweet so you may just need a little extra garam masala at the end to balance that. Let me know how it goes!