by Natasha Sisodiya
Creamy Spiced Ground Lamb with Potatoes & Peas (Keema)
This week I’m sharing one of our favorite Sunday family meals: keema. Keema is a dish from India and consists of ground meat with peas and potatoes simmered in a spicy tomato gravy. I tend to make a big batch and serve it in different ways throughout the week. (This is especially helpful when I’m having an autoimmune flare.) For breakfast, it’s delicious on toast topped with a fried egg and French feta. For lunch or dinner, I it goes with a side of rice, pasta, quinoa or flatbread. I have even used keema as a filling in quesadillas, grilled cheese and tacos for the kids. Growing up, my mom used to make us buttery cheesy fried sandwiches with a layer of keema and mint/cilantro chutney. My brother and I used to devour them.
You can use any type of ground meat. I like ground lamb but have used ground turkey, chicken and beef and they all work well. I love the addition of peas and potatoes, which makes this dish one-pot meal. If you don’t like either of these, you can add any other vegetable, such as cauliflower, red/green peppers and/or eggplant. Garbanzo beans also go well in keema. I’m all about trying different flavor and texture combinations. There are no hard-and-fast rules in cooking!
In this recipe, I use whole cloves, coriander seeds, black peppercorns and black cardamom. I use a mortar and pestle to crush them coarsely. You can also use a spice grinder if you prefer a more powdery texture. You don’t have to use whole spices, but it adds so much more flavor. I like to add a few tablespoons of sour cream at the end to give the gravy a creamy texture but this is also not necessary.
This recipe uses the staple Indian spices: cumin, coriander, ginger, garlic and turmeric. Your local grocery store should carry most of these spices, but if they don’t, see if you have an Indian grocery store nearby. I like my food spicy, so in addition to the red dried chilis, chili and cayenne powder, I also add a finely chopped serrano green chili (unless my kids are eating it). If the dish is too spicy for you, you can always add a dollop of Greek yogurt to cool it off.
I also add sumac to this dish, which is a spice mostly used in Middle Eastern cooking. I was recently introduced to sumac and love adding it to many of my dishes, especially grilled meats and vegetables. Sumac has a tangy, lemony flavor. If you can’t find it, you can always leave it out.
A few tips: for added flavor, you can roast the ground spices for a few minutes before adding the butter/oil. Also,when cooking the onions, make sure they’re slightly browned and translucent before moving forward. After adding the tomatoes and tomato paste, go ahead and do a taste test so you can adjust the spices to your taste. After you have added the potatoes, I suggest stirring and making sure they’re fork tender as the dish simmers. When adding the sour cream, make sure the heat is low and stir continuously so it does not curdle.
Creamy Spiced Ground Lamb with Potatoes & Peas Recipe (Keema)
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 65 minutes
2 pounds ground lamb
1 medium russet potato diced into half-inch cubes
1 cup frozen peas
3 Roma tomatoes, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 serrano green chili, finely chopped
2 tbsp. garlic minced
2 tbsp. tomato paste
2 tbsp. butter
3 tbsp. olive oil
1 cinnamon stick
6 cloves, crushed
30 coriander seeds, crushed
30 black peppercorns, crushed
Seeds of 2 black cardamom pods, crushed
1 tsp. cumin seeds
4 dried red chilis
¼ tsp. turmeric powder
3 tsp. cumin powder
2 tsp. coriander powder
1 tsp. ginger powder
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. cayenne powder
1 tsp. sumac powder
2 tsp. salt
3 tbsp. sour cream
Handful of chopped cilantro
1. Heat pot on medium to medium high and add cinnamon stick, cumin seeds, dried red chilis, black cardamom seeds, coriander seeds, black pepper and cloves. Roast for three minutes, ensuring that spices and chilis do not burn.
2. Add butter and oil and sautée for three to five minutes, until spices become fragrant.
3. Add onion and sautée for three to five minutes, until onions become translucent and slightly browned..
4. Add garlic and green chili and sautée for three to five minutes, or until garlic becomes fragrant, ensuring that it does not burn.
5. Add the ground lamb and break apart with a spatula or spoon and sautée for five to seven minutes or until browned.
6. Add turmeric, cumin, coriander, ginger, chili, cayenne, sumac and salt and mix well. Sautée for three minutes.
7. Add potatoes, stir and cook for three to five minutes.
8. Add the tomatoes and tomato paste, mix well and simmer on low, covered, for 15 to 20 minutes or until the potatoes are fork tender. Stir intermittently.
9. Add peas and cilantro, mix well and cook on low until peas are cooked through.
10. Turn heat off, add sour cream and mix well.
11. When ready to serve, garnish with additional cilantro. (optional)