Here’s a classic Pakistani recipe that everyone, even the fussy kids, will love.
Bonus – the recipe is remarkably hard to mess up.
(NOTE: This is the same recipe as before from Fatima Cooks – only the images have been updated. Fret not, friends :-D)
When it comes to food, I feel like every recipe has it’s own story behind it and some recipes more than others I feel a strong emotional attachment to. Food is never just food to me – it holds stories, emotions and comfort within it. It brings back certain memories, certain times of the year and certain places I’ve been to.
I remember the people I ate with and the times we spent together.
I fondly remember the distinctly different spices and aromas of the cooking in my Mother’s house in Pakistan – a distinctly sweeter and nuttier taste to the vegetables, a fragrance of ghee richer than I’ve ever smelt outside of the country and a chewier texture of the meat.
Food to me will always mean much more than flavour and sustenance.
This was my first Pakistani dish that I cooked that was deemed ‘successful’. And that’s saying quite a bit because I had previously failed at cooking simple white basmati rice and a pretty basic chicken curry. When my husband told me this aloo keema was bohot hi acha – very good – delight evident on his face, I felt like all the happiness in the world had just been handed to me on a plate (of dinner, with a side of roti). Yes, after a few weeks of villainously botched attempts at far too many traditional meals, I was that thrilled to finally have made something very good.
Now whenever I cook aloo keema, I always remember how much my husband had relished it after weeks of my bad cooking. I remember how immensely accomplished I had felt. I smile as I remember how he said ‘Don’t cook anything tomorrow, we’ll have this again for dinner’. And those memories always fill me with nothing short of bliss.
I can fall back on this recipe with my eyes closed and know there is no chance I will mess it up.
A lot of my first-time success, I later learnt, was down to the fact that it’s incredibly difficult to overcook minced meat. The problem with bigger cuts of meat is that if you’re a beginner, you won’t know when it’s cooked through so you risk undercooking and serving it semi-raw, or overcooking and serving it with the meat fallen off the bone. You’re not going to have this problem with keema, since it’s already broken down. I mean, whats the worst that can happen?
My Mum used to give this to me and my siblings the next day as a grilled sandwich with cheese. The contrast between the soft potatoes, the rich tomato-flavoured meat and the ooey-gooey cheese is absolutely delicious and this aloo keema cheese sandwich is still one of my 15-year-old brother’s favourites.
Tips to really elevate your Aloo Keema
- I always recommend you use hath ka keema not just for this, but for any keema dish you make. Loosely translated, haath ka keema means keema made by hand. For this, your butcher will cut the meat using their own knife instead of running it through the machine. This yeilds a chunky mince, one with more of a bite and a delicious texture. I personally cannot stand machine keema unless it is used for koftas.
- Though you can use any kind of potatoes, baby potatoes cut into halves really make this curry out of this world
- Always use fresh. Fresh ginger, fresh garlic, fresh tomatoes, fresh coriander. I don’t compromise on this and nor should you!
- The amount of oil you use is purely a personal preference. You can use more or less, as you like. I do feel that this is a rather forgiving curry (Aloo Keema, you are SO kind to us) and it does well with less oil too. If of course you can forego the oily orange-rim and elusive oil separation.
- If you like peas, add them in about ten minutes before the curry is complete. I love them too, but alas I married a pea-hater! Woe is me
Enjoy, with love X
- 0.25-0.5 cup oil
- 1.5 medium onion, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1 inch ginger
- 4 small tomatoes
- 400 grams lamb meat, minced
- 1.5 tsp salt, or to taste
- 2.5 tsp ground coriander
- 1.5 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp red chilli powder
- 0.5 tsp garam masala
- 1 tsp paprika, can substitute with deghi mirch or Kashmiri red chilli powder
- 0.5 tsp pepper
- 3 medium potatoes, peeled and sliced thinly
- a handful of freshly chopped coriander
- Begin with heating the oil in a pot. Add the onion, garlic and ginger and saute till brown.
- Add the tomatoes, about 1/2 cup of water and all the spices. Turn the heat to medium and stir the tomatoes till they begin to break down and a thick sauce forms. Allow most of the water to dry out. The oil should begin to rise to the top and separate from the sauce at the edges
- Add the minced meat. Saute it in the pot, allowing it to brown.
- After about 5 minutes, add 1 cup of boiling water. Cover and turn the heat to medium-low.
- After 30 minutes, add in the sliced potatoes. Turn the heat down to the lowest. There shouldn't be a lot of water left in the curry and the potatoes should be able to steam-cook in the pot at this point.
- Allow the potatoes to steam cook for approximately 10-20 minutes, depending on how thick the potatoes have been cut. Once done, add in the coriander and turn the heat off.
- Aloo keema is ready! Serve hot with warm, soft chapattis!
To adjust this recipe to cook with mutton, add 2 cups of water in step 4 and cook for one hour.