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 1/2 tbsp chilli flakes
- 1/2 tbsp red chilli powder
- 1 1/2 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, 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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