Monday, 20 July 2015


On reading that KEEMA had made it from the menus in restaurants, to the Oxford English Dictionary   in INDIATIMES.COM ,I smiled at the thought how keeping in mind the growing popularity, globally of Indian food, the Oxford English Dictionary had for the first time included completely Hindi words like Keema and Papad. There was an immediate urge to get hold of the latest edition of the Oxford dictionary and look up these Indian food words there. I was feeling so happy at how simple Hindi words used in INDIAN kitchen on a day to day basis had made its way into the world's most referred to dictionary.

The article further went on to say that the Ninth Edition of the Oxford Advanced Learners Dictionary published earlier this year (2015) had included 240 words from INDIAN English many of which ( I gleefully read ) were very common words used in INDIAN kitchens like Keema. That's so wonderful I thought to myself and then raked my brains on how many different types of KEEMA preparations or keema incorporated dish I had savoured till date. Well I will come to that a tad bit later, but first this is what the Little but very interesting trivia I gathered about the history of keema online.

Keema or Queema or Murtaza is basically finely chopped meat whose origin it seems was from the Persian word Qeymeh. KEEMA is a Urdu word which again means minced meat and traditionally keema is minced goat meat. This minced goat meat was cooked with aromatics, herbs spices etc. and potatoes, green peas or lentils were generally added. Nowadays however, Keema is made using lamb, chicken, beef or turkey. It is interesting to note that a very similar dish prepared by the Armenian is known as "GHEYMAH" and that the people of Turkey prepare something similar to Keema and call it 'KIYMA'.

Getting back to the multiple uses of Keema as an integral part in other dishes my favourites are the Shami kebab, Kakori kebab and Seekh kebab. I too love keema Samosas, Keema Naan & Parathas. Bengalis add keema to GHUGNI and to POTOLER DOLMA( pointed gourd stuffed with keema). The keema Biryani and the keema Mughlai paratha tastes equally yum. If I had to go with one favourite keema preparation I have had till now, without a doubt it would be the Mumbai roadside Keema Pav or even a step further where eggs is added to the Keema and called "GHOTALA", simply lipsmacking good.

This Keema dish is prepared by an old family friend, called Nasira aunty. She is one of the finest cooks that I have come across in my life. I am a huge fan of her food and whenever I visit her home I ask her to make the SHAHI KEEMA for me. This dish she says is her maternal grandmother's recipe. The old lady hailed from Murshidabad in BENGAL and surely would have a lot of Mughal influence in her cooking as is with most natives of Murshidabad. What I love about this keema dish is its exotic aroma emanating from her secret spice mix which Nasira aunty was generous to share with me. On asking her why this is called SHAHI she said probably because this was made only on special occasions and along with the aromatic spice mix, screw pine water, yogurt and roasted gram flour was added to this keema recipe. Also boiled eggs were added for the garnishing.

Well whatever the reason behind the nomenclature this is one truly delectable keema recipe and the only change I made in it was to use chicken mince, instead of goat mince. One very useful tip which Nasira aunty gave me is when buying the goat meat mince ensure that the fat content should in no way exceed more than 20%. This she reiterated gives that melt in the mouth Keema with a very creamy texture.

So let's get cooking Nasira Aunty's superlative SHAHI KEEMA





1) 1 Tbsp Coriander seeds
2) 4-5 Kashmiri whole dry red chillies
3) 1/2 Tsp of Black Salt ( If not available use Himalayan pink salt or sea salt)
4) 1 brown cardamom
5) 1/4 Tsp Turmeric powder
6) 5-6 Black Peppercorns
7) 1/2 Tsp Cumin seeds
8) 1/2 inch cinnamon stick
9) 3 cloves
10) 2 green cardamom
11) 1 bay leaf
12) 1 Tbsp of roasted gram flour

1) 500 Gms of Chicken Mince. The original recipe uses Goat mince. You can use Lamb mince too.
2) 2 Tbsp Yogurt
3) 3 Large onions minced
4) 1 Tbsp garlic paste
5) 1 Tsp ginger paste
6) 2 Green chillies finely chopped
7) 2 Tbsp of fresh mint leaves finely chopped
8) 2 Tbsp of coriander leaves finely chopped
9) 1/2 Cup 125 ml of milk
10) 2 Large tomatoes finely chopped
11) 4 Tbsp of fresh or frozen green peas
12) 1/2 Tsp of screw pine water. You can also use rose water alternately.
13) The aromatic mix
14) 2 Tbsp oil/ clarified butter
15) Salt to taste
16) 4 Boiled eggs for garnishing


1) Marinate the keema in yogurt for 15 minutes if chicken keema used. In case of goat keema marinate for at least 1/2 an hour or more.
TIP: You can use grated raw papaya as a tenderiser or the tenderiser available readymade in the supermarkets if you are using Goat mince.

2) Chop finely Onion, Green Chilli, fresh mint leaves, fresh coriander leaves, tomatoes all separately and keep aside.

3) Boil 4 eggs, shell them and keep ready for use.

4) To prepare the aromatic spice mix first dry roast the gram flour till fragrant. Cool and along with all the ingredients listed under Aromatic Spice Mix grind to a fine powder. Keep aside.

5) Now to start cooking. Heat oil in a pan. Add chopped onions and sauté till golden. Next add ginger and garlic paste and sauté further till aromatic.

6) Add chopped tomatoes and cook till soft. Next goes in the minced meat, the aromatic spice mix and the green peas.
TIP: Note that the meat mince should be very fine or else break the mince with your spatula while cooking. The finer the mince, the keema curry is going to taste more juicier, succlent and more delicious.

7) Simmer and cook covered till keema is almost done. At this point add milk, screw pine water, chopped green chillies, mint and coriander leaves. Cook for another 5 more minutes or till milk is completely absorbed. Check for seasoning. Add salt if required. Mix well.

8) Remove from flame. Garnish with cut pieces of boiled, coriander leaves. 

9) Serve hot with Roti, Naan or Saffron Pilaf

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