Vegan Hyderabadi 'Keema'

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Pushing the envelope further this Diwali, I acquiesced to an all vegan dinner. Yes, it is usually a vegetarian affair, but with three vegans in the house, our celebratory meal would definitely be an all-inclusive one. And Keema is one of my favourite Sindhi dishes, so it will be on the table for Diwali.

This time, it's Hyderabadi Keema. Hailing from Hyderabad, one presumes, it's a shade different from its Sindhi counterpart. For one, it's dry. For another, it's usually accompanied by a boiled egg. And some variations of Hyderabadi Keema include fenugreek leaves (kasoori methi) which aren't typically Sindhi, rather more north Indian. Since I actually like these fenugreek leaves, I'll make this with.

I don't usually have beef in the first place, so my Sindhi Keema recipe is with lamb. This is a gravy-rich dish that we would enjoy at our grandma's place where we ladled it on top of steaming hot rice and enjoy it with papad on the side. Hyderabadi Keema, on the other hand, is on the dry side. It's rich and flavourful, and equally enjoyable with mani or rice, but is so much better with pav (soft dinner rolls). The spices speak volumes, and it's the dried fenugreek leaves make this sing. Amazingly aromatic!

We decided to change things up a bit and since we're going vegan, we decided to give Gardein a chance. Gardein being a meatless substitute that's gaining ground locally. So we made two dishes with Gardein, this Hyderabadi Keema and a Mushroom and 'Chicken' Tikka Masala. I also made a Navratan Korma, Saibhaji, and Sindhi Kichani rice to go with it. Yep, that was what was on the table for Diwali. All vegan! I could use a pat in the back for effort ;)

Vegan or not, this Hyderabadi Keema was superb! And one could definitely use a minced vegetable blend for the 'meat' if substitutes aren't available, or just simply aren't your thing.

400 g minced 'meat'
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 bay leaves
4 green cardamoms
1 inch cinnamon piece
2 cloves
1/2 a large onion, minced
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 cm ginger, minced
2 tbsp tomato purée
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp Kashmiri chili powder
240 ml (1 cup) water
3 tbsp fenugreek leaves (kasoori methi)
Salt, to taste
1 tsp garam masala
Juice of half a lemon
Coriander leaves

1. Heat the oil in a nonstick fry pan.
2. Add the bay leaves, cardamom, cinnamon and cloves, pan-frying them for 20-30 seconds.
3. When the flavours have released, add the onions and cook it until it has browned, about 8-10 minutes, stirring religiously.
4. Then add the garlic and the ginger, cooking it for 3-4 minutes.
5. Stir in the tomato purée, adding up to a cup of water if it is too dry.

6. When the gravy has come together and oil starts separating from it, add the minced meat to the pan, cooking it through.
7. Sprinkle the turmeric, chili powder, and 1 cup of water, stir, reduce the flame to medium, and cook a further 15 minutes, until the keema becomes almost dry.
8. Rub the dried fenugreek leaves between your palms and sprinkle it in.
9. Taste for salt, then add the garam masala.
10. Turn off the heat, stir in the lemon juice, and top with some coriander leaves.

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