You guys, this Keema Aloo Curry recipe is the result of MONTHS of painstaking testing (and retesting, and re-retesting) but now that it’s finally ready, I can say that it was so, so worth it.
I mean, just look at it.
I might have been able to get this to you before, but remember my husband, (aka the spoiled brat)? He happens to be
a dictator very, very particular when it comes to keema aloo, which is his favorite dish in the whole wide world (yes, even more so than Aloo Chawal).
Naturally, you can imagine he had some very
stubborn STRONG opinions about what constitutes a proper keema dish. I’ll be enlightening you with his *ahem* deep insights on mincemeat curry while I talk you through making this.
Dry Roast the Spices for Maximum Flavor
I’ve written in an instruction to dry roast and grind coriander seeds and cumin seeds for use later on in the recipe. It only takes about a minute or two to do this, and you’ll be so glad you did. Dry roasting really brings a richer flavor and fragrance to the spices. Grinding them (either in the spice grinder of your blender or using a mortar and pestle) will help to release those flavors. Just trust me and do not skip this step. Do it. DO IT.
All your Desi aunties will be SUPER impressed.
Use a Handi / Clayware Pot for Best Results
I’ve found that cooking with a “handi” or clayware pot (particularly when preparing meat dishes) gives food an amazingly rich flavor that you just can’t get with something like stainless steel. One of the drawbacks is that it tacks on an extra 15 minutes to your cooking time, and it’s a bit tricky to stir while you cook because the mouth of the handi is so narrow. However, the flavor is well worth the extra effort, not to mention, you can take it directly to your table from your stove (but make sure you put something underneath it so you don’t burn your table.) An added bonus: your food will stay warmer longer, so it’s great for dinner parties.
If you’re going to use a handi to make Keema Aloo, make sure that your handi is actually MEANT to be used for cooking and not just for decoration. The one I use has food-safe glaze on the inside to make cooking in it a bit easier.
If you have a glazed handi and you want to determine if it’s safe to cook with, try this lemon test to make sure that acids from the foods you cook won’t leach off the glaze. If you want something a bit more accurate, you can buy a lead testing kit from a hardware store or online to make sure your pottery won’t leach lead into your food.
Aaaaaaaand if I’ve just completely terrified you from cooking in clayware, you can totally just use regular stainless steel like the one you see me using in this chicken stir fry with noodles recipe.
Substituting Aloo with Other Vegetables
Well, according to my husband, it MUST be Keema Aloo. Not Keema Matar, not Keema Aloo Matar, but just Keema Aloo. Period, full stop, do not pass Go, do not collect $200. God forbid I put any peas in there. Peas are evil and will ruin the Keema.
I, however, am now an enlightened individual when it comes to eating vegetables and I openly preach vegetable-love. You can switch out the potatoes with peas to make Keema Matar, or even switch it up with some cauliflower to make Keema Gobi, etc.
(Hold on a second, I need to get the smelling salts, my husband just fainted.)
When substituting vegetables, keep in mind the weight of what you’re adding. If it’s more or less than the 300g of the potatoes I used in this recipe, you might need to adjust the salt and spices accordingly. My advice is always start with less seasoning than you think you’ll need, and add more gradually as needed.
How can I make Keema Aloo healthier?
You might notice that this recipe uses a LOT more oil than I normally use. Like, a WHOLE LOT more.
Ever since I went to a nutritionist to help get my health and metabolism back on track, I’ve made certain lifestyle changes which have served me well over the last four years to keep me healthy and within normal BMI range. One of those is using less oil in my cooking.
When I develop my recipes, I try my best to use the LEAST amount of oil necessary for optimal cooking. However, I also want to stay true to the spirit of the dish.
Strictly speaking, you don’t need as much oil as I mentioned in the recipe card. This is especially true if you’re using a clay pot, which retains more moisture and thus needs less oil. The problem is that reducing the oil will significantly change the flavor and overall experience of a proper Pakistani Keema Aloo.
For many Pakistanis, Keema Aloo needs to be juicy and flavorful, and it needs that “tari” or excess oil CLEARLY visible to complete that experience. To quote my husband, “There is NO COMPROMISE when it comes to Keema!”
Long story short: In my experiments, 3/4 of a cup of oil is the least amount you can use while still retaining flavor. You can reduce it further if you wish, but realize that the result will be a drier, less flavorful meat. If you want the full taste experience of a traditional, Pakistani Keema Aloo, you need the full cup of oil.
You could probably add even more, but you’d better have your cardiologist on speed dial.
How to Freeze Keema Aloo
This recipe calls for a full kg of mincemeat which is double the amount I need to comfortably serve my family of five. As a result, I tend to serve half and freeze half.
Here’s the thing, though: Keema freezes beautifully. Aloo? Not so much.
If you freeze Keema Aloo, what happens when you reheat it is that the cooked potato cubes tend to lose their shape and get crumbly and mushy. Now, my family doesn’t really mind (yes, even “Il Duce” aka Hubby Dearest will let that slide) because the flavor is still pretty much the same. But if presentation is important to you, either substitute the potatoes for peas (which freeze much better) or take the potatoes out before freezing.
You’ll need to boil fresh potatoes until just done but still firm, then toss them in with the defrosted Keema Curry when you reheat. Taste and readjust the salt if necessary and, God Willing, no one will ever know it was frozen.
Well, maybe you’re mother-in-law will know. Is it just me, or do they tend to figure out everything?
What to Serve with Keema Curry
Keema curry is best served with naan or roti / chapati. If you want to be really luxurious (and potentially give your heart doctor a heart attack), you can serve it with hot, crispy paratha.
Some people really enjoy eating rice with Keema. It’s not the usual way it’s served, so I’d refrain from doing so unless you know for sure that’s what your family or guests would prefer.
To round out the meal, I like to serve a simple, vegetable salad (which Mr. Brat might condescend to eat a few bites of) and raita or yogurt on the side.
Make this Keema Aloo tonight and let me know how it went! Did it pass the test with your family?
Keema Aloo (Minced Meat and Potato Curry)
This Keema Aloo Curry recipe will give you the most authentic Pakistani flavor, with tips on how to make variations and freeze for later.
- 1 tsp cumin (dry roasted and ground)
- 1 tbsp coriander seeds (dry roasted and ground)
- 3/4 – 1 cup canola oil
- 6 cloves
- 1 inch cinnamon
- 1 black cardamom
- 15 black peppercorns
- 200 g onions (2 medium) finely chopped
- 1 tbsp garlic paste
- 1 tbsp ginger paste
- 1/4 cup canned tomato puree
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp red chili powder
- 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
- 1 kg beef minced (qeema) (can also substitute with mutton)
- 300 g potatoes (3 small) cubed
- 1 tsp garam masala powder
- 1 green chilli (chopped)
- coriander leaves (handful, chopped)
- ginger (julienned for garnish) (optional)
Dry roast the cumin and coriander seeds over low heat until fragrant. Grind and set aside.
Heat oil in clayware pot or stainless steel pot. Add clove, sinnamon, black cardamom and black peppercorns. Fry for a few seconds to season the oil.
Add onions and fry until they start to turn golden. Add ginger and garlic and fry until the raw smell goes away and onions are golden brown. Add tomato puree and fry until the oil separates.
Add salt, red chilli and turmeric. Fry until the raw smell of the turmeric goes away, then add the dry roasted spices.
Immediately add the meat and potatoes. Fry on medium heat until the color of the meat has changed completely. Keep frying until the excess moisture of the meat has dried up and it starts to release oil. (This might take a while, be patient.)
Add 1 cup of water, increase heat to high until it boils, reduce it to low, cover and cook until the meat and potatoes are tender.
Cook until curry is at the desired consistency (add or cook off water as needed). Add garam masala powder, green chilli and coriander leaves. Mix and transfer to serving dish.
Garnish with ginger julienne (optional) and serve.
- If substituting canned tomato puree with fresh tomatoes, use 150-200g tomatoes (roughly 3-4 plum tomatoes or 1-2 globe tomatoes.)