This recipe for Indian masala kheema, or meat mince, can be made with any meat you prefer—chicken, lamb, pork, goat meat, or any combination such as minced pork and veal—but has become synonymous with lamb as this is a pantry staple in India. Masala kheema is a flavorful combination of onion, garlic, ginger, spices, meat, and tomatoes, making a comforting dish that is easily accessible since garam masala is the only truly Indian ingredient. The dish is extremely versatile and simply changing the ingredients in the masala (the spice and onion mixture) can result in a great new taste each time. Serve with chapatis (Indian flatbread) or parathas (pan-fried Indian flatbread) or plain boiled, fragrant basmati rice.
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil (or canola or sunflower cooking oil)
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 2 medium onions (finely chopped)
- 1 tablespoon garlic paste
- 1 tablespoon ginger paste
- 2 tablespoons coriander
- 1 tablespoon cumin
- 1 tablespoon garam masala
- Salt (to taste)
- 1 pound ground beef (or use any ground meat you prefer for this recipe)
- 2 medium tomatoes (finely chopped)
- 1/2 lime (or lemon, juiced)
- Garnish: fresh cilantro leaves (chopped)
Gather the ingredients.
Heat the cooking oil in a wok or deep pan over medium heat.
Add the cumin seeds and fry for 1 minute or until the seeds stop spluttering.
Add the onions and sauté till they turn a pale golden color - about 5 minutes.
Add the garlic and ginger pastes and fry for 1 minute to get rid of the "raw" fragrance.
Add the coriander, cumin, garam masala, and salt to taste and sauté, stirring almost continuously, until the oil begins to separate from the masala. (When this happens, you know the spices are cooked to perfection.)
Add the meat to the masala and sauté until browned, stirring often to prevent burning - about 5 to 7 minutes.
Add the tomatoes, stir, and cook until they are soft.
Turn off the heat, add the lime or lemon juice, and stir to mix well.
Garnish with chopped coriander leaves and serve hot.
Make Your Own Garam Masala
If you do have more time on your hands, you can make your own garam masala. Literally meaning "hot spices," this spice mixture doesn't have to be spicy at all. Since recipes can change from region to region, there really is no set ingredient list, although most garam masalas include cumin, coriander, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, and black pepper. What the recipes do have in common is that the spices are usually toasted in a dry skillet to bring out their essence before being ground together.
- Masala kheema can be eaten as a main course for lunch or dinner. Serve it over plain basmati rice or alongside daal (soup-like lentils). Then, add a leafy green salad for a well-rounded meal.
- If you happen to have leftovers, this is the meal that keeps on giving. Masala kheema tastes even better the next day and makes a great sandwich or wrap filling. If you can't use it right away, freeze any leftovers to eat later on.
- For a heartier meal, toss in 1 cup of fresh or frozen green peas and 2 to 3 potatoes (washed and cut into 1/2-inch cubes) just after the meat is browned. It's the perfect one pot dish for a busy weeknight.