Looking for a simple, healthy Indian recipe to throw together any night of the week? Beef Keema is the perfect dinner with its flavorful spice and sauce, quick prepare-time, and versatility with ingredients, diet restrictions, and picky eaters.
When my kids have friends staying over for dinner, this is my go-to recipe. Well, second to dal, that is. Beef keema is a gateway into what we eat at home–the fastest and surest way to invite guests to LOVE Indian food immediately–with all its subtle spices and fresh ingredients.
As with most things I cook, this is so versatile and flexible. Not too many spices — not a problem. Hate peas (that’s for my little perfect child!) — skip the peas. Add some spinach. Not into ground beef…try ground lamb…or ground turkey…or ground chicken. It’s really all so easy and so doable. I usually serve it with rice and possibly some quickly chopped, crunchy cucumbers. I love sprinkling everything with loads of cilantro — but if the littles don’t, leave it out or on the side. We usually serve it with warm rice. If you are limiting rice for yourself, this dish is perfectly satiating without the rice. Or, you can make cauliflower rice as well, see my recipe for a seasoned and FLAVOR-packed cauliflower rice.
This was a go-to in my husband’s house growing up, and still a favorite of his even today. It is saucy and rich but without the heaviness. Funny story, my sweet mother-in-law, who is an incredible cook, would sometimes call her beef keema “Italian meat sauce” to convince her kids that she could cook “American” food. While she WOULD serve it over spaghetti noodles, she didn’t switch out the flavors!! My husband and his siblings were not amused!
Additionally, when friends ask me to teach them how to make something or want to experiment with an “easy” recipe, this is the one I share the most often. It doesn’t have too many spices involved, many are likely to be in your larder for other cuisines, and it really isn’t labor-intensive. I am pretty sure I have a 100% success rate! With both the cooks and the eaters. Bold but true!
This one is saucy and thick, so if you are not eating rice, you honestly won’t miss it. Give the spinach or kale you are cooking a little bit extra love and serve yourself up a heap of veggies to balance it all. Another great thing about this beef keema is that it lends itself easily to a variety of eating preferences. Are you serving kids with different eating styles? Kids want nothing touching anything else? No Problem. You want a big, spicy bowl with everything tumbled together? No problem. You are a MAGICIAN!
By now, your house should smell amazing— you likely won’t even have to call the children to the table — they will come running. Dinner is served!
Take a moment to ground yourself with one full deep breath and say a very specific in-the-moment gratitude. I am so grateful for these friends around my table tonight, I value their support and their kindness.
Enjoy the beauty around your HEALTHY family table!
Medium pot or saucepan, whatever your preference
Wooden spoon to stir
2 tablespoons ghee, butter, grapeseed oil, coconut oil
1 pound of ground, grass-fed beef or lamb
1 cup peas
1 or 2 small shallots, chopped
2–4 garlic cloves, crushed
1 — 2 inches Ginger, grated or finely chopped
½ medium green jalapeno, chopped (omit if you don’t have and add more red chile)
1 Tablespoon Tomato paste
1/c cup pureed tomato or freshly chopped tomatoes.
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 Tablespoon cumin
1 Tablespoon coriander
1 Tablespoon red chile powder
Small cinnamon stick
Salt to taste
- On low, heat a large saucepan or pot, once warm, add the ghee or oil. Once that is warm, add onions to begin caramelize, cooking the onions low and slow for 15 minutes, stir, but not too often. Take a deep breath — the onions will smell sweet and fragrant. MMMMMM….Add the garlic and ginger, stirring, so the garlic doesn’t burn and turn bitter. Sprinkle all the spices and the cinnamon stick. Stir slowly but continuously to not burn the spices. Once the spices have bloomed — about 30 seconds or so, add the tomato paste. Sitr frequently so it doesn’t burn–adding a little water if you need to. We aren’t cooking as much as trying to expand the flavor profile of the paste and make it taste less “tinny.”
- Now, add the pureed tomatoes.
- Add the ground beef, sprinkle with some sea salt and continue to stir to brown the meat. Add more water as necessary. You want it to be saucy but not too thin and soupy. Cover to let the flavors come together and the sauce to become integrated.
- After 10 minutes, check and add the frozen peas, if using. Let that cook for just a couple minutes.
- Meanwhile, wash and chop the cilantro. Sprinkle liberally!
By now, your house should smell amazing— you likely won’t even have to call the children to the table — they will come running.
We usually serve it with warm rice.
If you are vegetarian, you can substitute garbanzo beans, kidney beans, or your favorite beans, or whatever you have on hand! This would then be similar to chole or rajma, also a delicious and hearty meal.
You can substitute tofu as well. It will be a saucy spicy scramble, which would be lovely served with sauteed greens or warm rice.
For a low carb option, substitute with cauli rice, broccoli rice, or serve over a bed of sauteed spinach, steamed broccoli, and cauliflower, or our sauteed mushrooms. If I am not having rice, I actually love eating it without rice. It’s just as warming and so filling in all the best ways.
I have made this countless times with other ground meats. Lamb is traditional, ground chicken is fantastic, ground turkey absorbs the flavors well.
Storage for Beef Keema
This dish stores really well – in fact, it’s one of those magical dishes that continues to taste better as the flavors continue to come together. Store in an airtight glass container in the refrigerator for 3 to 5 days.
Lucky with Leftovers
Beef keema is delicious wrapped in a corn tortilla, cauliflower wrap, whole wheat tortilla, or roti. Throw on some fresh arugula and some warm veggies. Lunch was never so good.