Beef, Keema

The Versatility of Mince…

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Minced meat always makes it into my shopping basket a couple of times a month. If it is lamb, it could end up as tasty Kofta served in flatbreads or a rich Moussaka. If it is chicken, it would usually be made into spicy burgers served in pitta breads with oodles of salad and lashings of yoghurt. If it was turkey – okay, that never ends up in my shopping basket as I don’t like the stuff minced!

Beef mince is the most common purchase as it can be moulded into all shapes and sizes. It is cooked and spiced according to recipes of different far-flung places. It could be juicy homemade burgers or comforting Shepard’s Pie. It could be rich lasagna or a rather spicy chilli with oodles of beans.

This week was different. Mince may be versatile but I groaned – loudly – when I saw it. I had no interest in cooking any of the favourites, let alone eating them. I needed to think of an alternative. Aha! I thought! I’ll cook Keema.

Never having cooking it before, I searched through a number of recipes and cooking styles. Garnering bits and pieces, I set about preparing my own version. Did it work? It worked wonderfully! Although I cooked rice, I didn’t eat it as I found the Keema too filling. Instead, I ate it with a small naan bread. The Teen ate it just as it was.

Traditional Keema contains peas but I left them out. Don’t get me wrong – I love them but not when they have been slow-cooked and turn that icky grey-green colour! They taste fine – it is simply a question of the look of the little spheres!

Instead of opting for a stove top method, I slow-cooked the Keema in the oven. I wanted it to have a richness of flavour which cooking in a pot rarely achieves to the same depth.


Minced Beef Keema
(serves 4-6)

1 large onion chopped roughly
3-4 cloves garlic chopped roughly
1 fresh chilli chopped roughly
1 piece of ginger (about 1.5 inches long) peeled and chopped into small pieces
1 1/2 lbs minced beef
1lb potatoes peeled and cut into large, bite size cubes
1-2 cinnamon sticks (according to taste)
1 teaspoon cumin seeds crushed
1 teaspoon coriander seeds crushed
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 tablespoon tomato puree
1/2 pint good quality beef stock
2 tablespoons sunflower oil
Salt and pepper to season
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional – if prefer more of a kick)

1. Pre-heat the oven to 180C
2. Blitz the onion, chilli, ginger and garlic in a food blender to make a paste
3. Heat the oil in a heavy (cast iron) casserole dish
4. Fry the onion paste for 2 minutes and then add the mince, mixing it in with the paste and cooking for about 5 minutes
5. Add in all the spices and cook for a further 2 minutes
6. Add the potatoes, tomatoes, tomato puree, half of the beef stock, salt and pepper
7. Cover and place in the oven
8. Cook at 180C for about 10 minutes and then reduce to 160C, cooking for a further 40 minutes
9. If the mix is too thick, add the remainder of the stock at about the 30 minute point of cooking. Some cayenne pepper may also be added at this  point if you prefer the dish to have more spice
10. When cooked, remove from oven and let stand for about 5 minutes
11. Remove cinnamon stick and give the mixture a gentle stir so as not to break up the potatoes
12. Serve on a plate with rice or in a bowl – on its own or with a warm naan bread.