Sindhi Keema - Kheemo

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Keema, or kheemo, as we know it, is a minced meat dish that is typical of Sindhi cuisine. Growing up in a migrant community back home, it seems, keeps not only traditions, but cuisines alive as well. I fondly recall having keemo in my grandmother's place, where my aunts would prepare it, along with chicken seyal and biryani. Keemo would be the most popular among the young ones simply because one did not have to navigate through the bones of drumsticks and fish, one simply wolfed it down in copious amounts. I'm talking about my brothers and numerous male cousins.

Fast forward 20 years or so, it remains the most requested Indian dish at home. When mom in law comes to visit us, she would call my kids beforehand to take 'requests', and guess what? Keemo it was! Savoured with bhuga chawal or chappati and some yogurt on the side, it was the epitome of comfort food, Sindhi style. Oh yes, we ate with our fingers! Except the yogurt, that is!

Usually made with minced goat meat, most keemo is now made with chicken in the Sindhi households. The list of ingredients look really menacing, but if you often cook with Indian spices, you'll have most of them already. I just had to buy the meat and the tomatoes for this one, actually. Love how the oil gets infused with the aromatics before the cooking starts. This is what fueling with flavour is all about ;)

Here, the recipe calls for an all meat mince. However, I usually substitute half of the meat for minced vegetables (zucchini and carrots), as you may notice in the picture. Then again, you could go all vegetarian on this. Mushrooms and eggplant are wonderful for their meaty and umami flavours.

1 kg minced lamb or goat
4 green cardamom pods
2 black cardamoms
3 inches of cinnamon stick
6 cloves
4 Bay leaves
3 green chilies, thinly sliced
4 medium onions, finely chopped
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 tbsp minced ginger

2 tbsp turmeric powder
2 tsp red chili powder
1 tbsp coriander powder
1 tsp cumin powder
4 tomatoes, finely chopped
1/2 cup yogurt 
1 cup green peas
2 tbsp Garam masala
Salt to taste
Coriander leaves

1. Heat a glug of oil in a pressure cooker, and when warm, add the aromatics: cardamoms, cinnamon, cloves and bay leaves until it sizzles.
2. Add chilies and onions and sweat until the onions turn golden brown.
3. Then add the garlic and ginger and cook a further 3 minutes.
4. Now add the minced meat and turmeric, browning the meat.
5. Keep stirring now and then to break up the meat.
6. When the meat is cooked through, add the red chili powder, coriander powder, cumin powder and salt and mix well.
7. Add the chopped tomatoes and cook a further 3 minutes.
8. Add the yogurt and a cup of water, mix well.
9. Over the pressure cooker, bring up to pressure, lower the heat to medium low and cook for 10 minutes.
10. When it depressurizes, carefully remove the lid, stir and add the fresh green peas.
11. If you prefer more gravy, add a cup of water or yogurt.
12. Now add the garam masala, stir again, then top with coriander leaves before serving.

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