This is one of my husband’s favourite dishes.
Well, to be more specific, this is his favourite Pakistani recipe of mine.
And to be quite fair, I do agree with him. If I had to make a list of my favourite Pakistani foods, Karahi Keema made with mutton or lamb meat would be in my top 5.
Literally, a karahi is a type of pan used to cook food in around the South-East of Asia. It is a shallow circular pan, like a wok, and typically is of a heavy base, often steel or cast iron.
Karahi also refers to a specific kind of curry made in the karahi-pan in the South of Asia.
Such curries are tomato-based and have strong flavours of ginger, garlic and green chilli.The tomato and ginger is a defining aspect of karahi recipes – Without lots of tomato and ginger, you quite simply are not really enjoying the true flavour of a karahi!
So traditionally Karahi dishes do not use onion. This is something my Father has always been adamant about. When I developed this recipe back in 2015 I could never understand the importance of this. Now, as a more seasoned cook (I am editing this in 2020 now), I have grown to have much more appreciation and consideration towards the traditional methods. I have used onion in this recipe, however since this is one of my most popular recipes on the blog (2nd only to Chicken Pilau!), I am keeping this recipe up the way it originally was written. For a more authentic recipe, check out this chicken keema karahi recipe.
Before marriage, I used to see my father cook a lot in his karahi. My father is a true expert in karahis and I endearingly call him ‘the karahi Master’ whenever I see him cooking yet another karahi for the guests he loves to cook for. His karahi dishes were usually made with lamb or chicken – keema is a spin I have made and one which has become a definite keeper for us!
This is a recipe I’ve tested and tweaked over the months. And it’s been a total hit! I find it’s one I always come back to again and again, particularly for dawats and dinner parties, just because it comes together so well and tastes so incredibly rich!
The one thing I feel makes a world of a difference is the cut of mince used. I always use chunkier minced meat whenever I cook this recipe. When going to the butchers, instead of asking for machine-cut minced meat, ask for hand-cut, or ‘hath ka keema’ if your butchers are Pakistani. I have tried this recipe with both types of mince and I find the hath ka keema far more superior. This cut yields more texture and suits this dish much more than machine-mince. This is totally optional but if hath ka keema is available to you I definitely recommend it.
Another thing worth mentioning about karahi dishes is that often, they use a lot of oil. This is to bypass all the moisture and thickness of the tomatoes.
In this particular recipe, I have used less because this is a recipe on regular rotation in my house and I don’t want this to be an extremely fatty meal. However if I were to be serving this to guests, I could easily double the amount of oil. Oil helps the meat brown better and gives a more desi look to the end dish. It’s your call – add more oil or stick to the amount I’ve used depending on how you feel.
One final note regarding the ginger in this recipe. Ginger is only used as garnish in this recipe – I have been told by someone whose cooking experience I trust that traditionally ginger is only to be used as garnish and not in the actual karahi dish. Why? I didn’t actually find out from him, but I think it is so the ginger remains a strong, pronounced and a visible part of the dish. Raw garlic definitely has a different taste to ginger which has been cooked into the dish in the early stages. As with all recipes, you are completely free to add grated or minced ginger in the earlier stages of the cooking!
Enjoy, with love x
Also – try my Chicken Karahi Keema too! Get the recipe here
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