Here’s a classic Pakistani recipe that everyone, even the fussy kids, will love.
Bonus – the recipe is remarkably hard to mess up.
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.
I got married in August 2014 with no prior experience of cooking Pakistani food. My marriage is still new so all my failed and successful recipes during the past 9 months are still fresh memories for me. I remember all the dinners that went down well and the ones that weren’t quite up to par.
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). 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 chunky 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.
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 would be visciously appealing to our young taste-buds and this aloo keema cheese sandwich is still one of my 15-year-old brother’s favourites.
Enjoy, with love.
My new book, ‘The Clueless Pakistani Cook’, is now available to purchase! ‘The Clueless Pakistani Cook’ is a guidebook written for people who want to get started in the kitchen and learn how to cook Pakistani food, but aren’t quite sure where to begin. It includes information about what you should have in the kitchen, spices, cooking a masala, rice, desserts, common Q&As and 5 recipes to get you started! It is a must-read for anyone who wants to learn Pakistani cooking! Click here for more information about ‘The Clueless Pakistani Cook’ and here to purchase it from Amazon!