Matar Keema Curry is a homely, wholesome, delicious, one pot preparation. For me it means one of the many happy memories of coming back from school to a yummy, home cooked meal.

The keema based curries and kebabs are a legacy of the Nizams of Deccan in the Indian subcontinent. They loved their jewels and palaces but had a deeper affection for fine food prepared in the royal kitchens. The keema curry is not only very easy to cook but also requires less spices than many other dishes from princely repertoire of recipes that’s why became popular as an all occasion dish among common people. Many vegetables are added to enhance the flavour of the curry, like carrots, potatoes, green beans, fenugreek and spinach but Matar Keema or peas with meat mince remains a classic combination.

A few days back, I was talking to an old friend from my school days, and during conversation she asked me what I was cooking for lunch. When I told her that I was making Matar Keema, she was seriously shocked. According to her it was an extinct dish in her house because all her kids asked to eat were burgers and pizzas. I then realised that how the simple, delicious and healthy foods from our own cuisine are fast disappearing because we are not introducing them to the next generation. I am very happy that my kids actually request for this meal and ask for lots of peas.
Hope this recipe will bring joy to another family too and help keep the good old traditional food alive in our homes. But remember, it’s not recipes that keep these traditions alive, it’s trying out the recipes with love.

Traditionally the dish is prepared with mutton mince, you can use any meat you like. The cooking time will change accordingly. Chicken mince gets done the fastest.

1/2 kg chicken or mutton mince
1 cup peas
1 medium onion, sliced
1 tablespoon ginger-garlic paste
4 tomatoes, puréed
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1 teaspoon coriander powder
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1 teaspoon red chilli powder or to taste
1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
salt to taste
I stick cinnamon
4-5 cloves
4-5 green cardamoms
1 lemon
2 tablespoons olive oil or ghee (clarified butter)
Fresh coriander, julienned ginger and green chilli peppers for garnishing

This Is What You Do:
Heat oil/ghee in a deep frying pan or cooking pot. Add onions and sauté till golden brown.

Add ginger-garlic paste, chicken mince, cinnamon stick, cloves and green cardamoms. Sauté another 2-3 minutes or till the mince changes colour.

Add tomato puree, salt and all the dry spices. Cover and cook on medium heat till the liquid reduces and keema is almost cooked. Chicken mince gets done in its own juices and the liquid from tomatoes. If using lamb or beef, add 3-4 cup water.

Add yogurt and peas. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover the pan and cook till the peas are done and liquid from yogurt sufficiently reduced with a hint of oil on the sides of the pan.

If you want the curry completely dry, then remove the lid and cook on medium high heat another couple of minutes, stirring frequently so that the curry doesn’t burn at the bottom (curries with yogurt burn more easily at the bottom).

Squeeze a lemon on top. Garnish with julienned ginger, chopped green chillies and fresh coriander leaves.

Serve hot with roti, naan or paratha.

Serves 4

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