Qeema Chawal – Rice & Ground Beef Pilaf

qeema chawal

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Qeema Chawal. Rice and Ground Beef. Is this a qeema biryani? I don’t know, but when I think of biryani I think of headier spices, bolder flavors. Qeema Chawal for me is it’s more mellow beautiful counterpart. It is more pulao like in it’s simplicity of flavors and it is one of the few dishes where I will not be able to resist seconds (and maybe thirds but whose counting). This is another one of my mothers recipes and one of those which I make almost as well as she does. Almost. That’s more than good enough for me. 


I wasn’t sure whether I should post this recipe or not, but the further we get into Ramzan the more my body craves foods that are light yet flavorfully spicy and this checks those boxes. I love it most with a loaded raita, but then I love most things with a loaded raita. This rice dish improves in flavor and the best way to reheat is to sprinkle it with a little water before microwaving it. If you feel like your beef has become too ‘dry’ then add two additional tbsp of room temperature whipped yogurt into the qeema mixture before layering it with the rice.

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Qeema Chawal / Ground Beef & Rice Pilaf

a simple delicious pilaf!
Author Sarah - Flour & Spice Blog


  • 3.5 cups basmati rice
  • 1 lb lean ground beef little less is fine
  • 3/4 tsp cumin seeds
  • 3-4 cloves
  • 6-7 black peppers whole
  • 1 inch cinnamon stick
  • 1 regular sized onions or two small
  • 1 heaped tsp garlic paste
  • 1 heaped tsp ginger paste
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tablespoon red chilli powder
  • 1/3 tsp turmeric
  • 2 to matoes
  • 3/4 tsp garam masala powder
  • 2 tablespoons yogurt
  • 4-6 green chillies
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 1/2 cup cilantro
  • 1/4 cup mint
  • oil for cooking



  1. * wash and soak your rice
  2. * parboil your rice in briny (gnerously salted) water and drain.


  1. * whip your yogurt in a small bowl to make smooth and set aside
  2. * dice your onion & tomatoes then chop your cilantro, mint and chillies and set aside.
  3. * heat a lug of oil in a large bottomed pan or a wok - it will make for faster cooking than a small pot
  4. * add the cloves, peppers, cinnamon and cumin seeds
  5. *when the dry spices start to sizzle and give off an aroma then add the onion and saute till translucent
  6. * in go the ginger and garlic paste, stir fry for a minute
  7. * add the salt, red chilli powder, and turmeric powder. saute for another minute
  8. * now in goes the ground beef, cook on medium high till well browned. this takes 5 minutes or so, if it starts to stick add more oil and continue to cook stirring frequently till the beef takes on a darker brown color
  9. * add the yogurt and diced tomatoes and cook on medium heat till the tomatoes become one with the ground beef, you may see v thin tomato 'skin' pieces and that's fine.
  10. * now in go the garam masala powder, green chillies (start w 3-4), cilantro, mint, and lemon juice, cook for 1 minute and taste. It should be slightly salty, spicy, and tangy. If not then adjust seasoning.


  1. Put half the rice in a large pot, then add a layer of ground beef, then top it with the remaining rice. If you want you can scatter over some green chillies and lemon pieces for their aroma. Leave the pilaf to cook on low temperature for about 20 minutes and then fix carefully so as to not break the rice

Recipe Notes

* I usually start cooking the rice before the beef and then whenever it is done I drain it and set it aside till ready to use
* Salting your rice is so important, but if you underdo it then adjust the seasoning in the raita/yogurt to compensate.
* For a more 'chatpata' (spicy & strong) taste you can always add two spoons of achar masala to the ground beef.


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  1. Sarah, I’m trying to make this tonight but I’m too much of a noob to understand a few things. So 1. How long would you say it takes to parboil the rice? and 2. When you’re layering it all and then cooking on low, do you need to add water at all? Also I want to add potatoes, should I roast them first then layer them in or just add at the end?

    1. Hey Siham! So parboiling the rice honestly depends on the brand and your cooktop. I have a ceramic cooktop so it takes me aeons to get rice to boil. Generally though use your nose as your guide, if you can smell that rice smell check on it, for me think it is usually about 8-10 of a healthy simmer. for the layering you don’t need to add water at all. also for the potatoes (yum!) roast them add them, add them at the end or even cook them w the qeema and you’ll be fine either way. Hope this helps – keep me posted!

      1. I made it! It doesn’t suck! The rice looks like actual rice instead of some vague mush and I’m actually looking forward to eating through it. You’d have to know more about what’s being going on in my kitchen to understand what a victory that is but short version: thanks Sarah!!

        1. hahah that’s awesome to hear! If its any consolation rice used to be my nemesis. That and tea. Let’s not talk about tea anymore… *slowly skulking away*

    1. Hi Najia! they go in with the tomatoes, thanks for catching it! Am updating the recipe now – let me know how it turns out 🙂

          1. When ever I am confused about what to cook today, I turned to your recipes to try something new. I’m glad that I found this blog.
            Thank you for making me a good cook.

  2. Hello! I found this recipe on Pinterest and made it this morning for dinner for my 5 year old and 1 year old, i added some frozen veggies (a corn, carrot, pea, green bean mix) to the keema. Omg, I know i made it for them but i can’t stop eating it. It’s so light flavorful and Perfect for the kids!!! Thanks for sharing this recipe, I will definitely try some of your other ones now!

    1. Yay! AM SO THRILLED to read this! Also I love that you added some veggies to the qeema, I want to try that now too!

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