Keema (قیمہ ) in Pakistan is comfort food, and so I was thrilled when my friend offered to share her chicken keema recipe for the blog.
Although you will never find it on a restaurant menu (see details on why that may be the case here), it’s a household staple that sits deep into your desi subconscious. I always break it out when I have had a tough week, and need reinforcements.
Keema comes in many forms. Spell it with a Q or a K. Make it with minced chicken, goat, beef or even turkey. Have it with rice or roti. Or cook with peas, potatoes or green bell peppers. It can also be used in soup (such as here) or layered in khichri (such as here).
I like mine without vegetables so it was just as well that my friend, Kulsoom made an elegant chicken keema, dusted with garam masala and served with a generous helping of green chillies and cilantro.
How to Cook Keema
The process of ‘bhuno’ is critical. Shanaz Ramzi, author of the Pakistani cookbook, “Food Prints“, defines ‘bhuno’ as the process of frying ingredients in an uncovered utensil on high heat while stirring constantly. A key feature of Pakistani and north Indian cooking, ‘bhuno’ deepens the flavor of the food by melding the spices, deepening their color and flavor. Stirring the meat constantly on high heat also tenderizes it, infusing the keema with a much richer texture. In this recipe, adopt this technique in step four when Kulsoom adds the keema after the ground spices.
- 2 tbsp oil canola, sunflower or vegetable
- 1 1/2 medium sized onion chopped in half rings
- 2 tsp ginger/garlic paste can be found in any Indian/Pakistani grocery store. Alternatively, just use 1 tsp crushed ginger and 1 tsp crushed garlic
- 3 cloves
- 2 black cardamom pods
- 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
- 1 tsp red chili powder
- 1/2 tsp cumin powder
- 2 lbs ground chicken or beef
- Salt to taste
- 3 tomatoes de-seeded and roughly chopped
- 1/4 tsp garam masala powder optional
- 1 green chili finely diced (optional)
- 1 tbsp cilantro finely diced (optional)
- Heat oil in a medium-sized, deep non-stick pan. Add chopped onions and brown them on medium-low heat till they are limp, about 20 minutes.
- Add the ginger/garlic paste and stir for a few seconds on low heat.
- Add ground spices and let them simmer for a few seconds.
- Add ground meat, salt and tomatoes. Stir till well-mixed and cover with lid. Cook on medium-low heat for 15 minutes.
- Remove lid and stir for an additional 10 minutes to let the water dry out. Remove from heat.
- Dust with a pinch of garam masala and garnish with finely chopped green chillies and cilantro.