Indian Masala Kheema (Dry Spicy Minced Meat)

A plate of masala kheema
Rovingi/Flickr/CC BY 2.0
  • Total: 25 mins
  • Prep: 5 mins
  • Cook: 20 mins
  • Yield: 4 servings
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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.

What You'll Need

  • 3 tablespoons vegetable, 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)
  • Juice of 1/2 lime or lemon
  • Garnish: Chopped fresh coriander leaves (cilantro)

How to Make It

  1. Heat the cooking oil in a wok or deep pan over medium heat.
  2. Add the cumin seeds and fry for 1 minute or until the seeds stop spluttering.
  3. Add the onions and sauté till they turn a pale golden color, about 5 minutes.
  4. Add the garlic and ginger pastes and fry for 1 minute to get rid of the "raw" fragrance.
  5. 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.)
  1. Add the meat to the masala and sauté until browned, stirring often to prevent burning, about 5 to 7 minutes.
  2. Add the tomatoes, stir, and cook until they are soft.
  3. Turn off the heat, add the lime or lemon juice, and stir to mix well.
  4. 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. 

More About Masala Kheema

Don't let the amount of the individual spices in this recipe alarm you, as the combination has been tried and tested thousands of times to great success. The garam masala gives it a warming heat that perfectly complements the natural flavors of the meat. 

Masala Kheema can be served as a main course for lunch or dinner, and if you want to eat it with plain boiled rice, be sure to add a daal dish (soup-like lentils). Add a leafy green salad, and you have the perfect, well-rounded meal. 

Masala kheema is the meal that keeps on giving if you happen to have any leftover. It tastes even better the next day and makes a great toasted sandwich or a wrap filling. If you can't or don't want to use it right away, masala kheema freezes well for use later on.

Tips and Variations

If you would like to add more substance of your masala kheema, toss in 1 cup of fresh or frozen green peas or 2 to 3 potatoes (washed and cut into 1/2-inch cubes), or both, just after the meat is browned. Now you have an all-in-one dish perfect for a busy weeknight.


Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
351 Calories
15g Fat
14g Carbs
38g Protein
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)