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Shahi Keema Curry
Shahi Keema Curry

Mamta Gupta

The word shah means a king or a monarch and the word shahi means food fit for a shah. This usually translates as a rich dish, the kind of luxurious food served to those with high status and money. Shahi dishes usually have a plenty of butter and cream and may also be enriched with dried fruits or nuts.

I usually make it with British lamb, lamb being a good choice for our mixed faith social gatherings, because it is suitable for people of all religions, with the exception of vegetarians, I always have plenty of vegetable dishes on the table alongside for them! It can be served with rice, fresh chapattis, naan or any Middle Eastern flat bread.

Leftovers are great on a jacket potato, stirred through a big bowl of pasta, stuffed into a hollowed out courgette, tomato or aubergine and baked, or rolled in flatbreads or tortillas to make Frankies - a popular Indian street food snack from Mumbai. You can even make a Keema biryani with any leftovers.

Despite the long list of ingredients, this curry is easy to make (note how few steps are required) and relatively inexpensive too. Use the best quality and freshest meat and spices you can find in order to get the best taste.

Serves 4

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Ingredients

500 grams lamb mince, regular not lean
For the marinade
2 tsp. ground coriander
1 scant tsp ground cumin
1/2-1 tsp. chilli powder* (see note)
1 scant tsp. turmeric powder
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1 tsp. ground green cardamom** (see note)
1 tsp. mild sweet paprika, for colour
1 tsp. garam masala*** (see note)
A generous sprinkle of freshly ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. salt, or more to taste
1 tbsp. ginger root, peeled and finely grated
2-3 large cloves of garlic, crushed or finely grated
To cook
3 tbsp. ghee or clarified butter
1 tsp. cumin seeds
2 medium onions (300 grams), peeled and finely chopped or grated
3 medium tomatoes, finely chopped, mashed or blended (or substitute 300 grams good quality tinned chopped tomatoes)
1 cup hot water
To finish
150 ml. full fat sour cream**** or full fat thick natural yoghurt, at room temperature
1 tsp. garam masala***
2-3 tbsp. fresh coriander leaves, roughly chopped
Optional: 1 green chilli, finely chopped
* chilli powders vary in flavour and strength and people like different level of heat in their food. So, adjust amount of chilli.
** If possible, grind and sieve whole green cardamom pods to make your own. The difference in flavour when using freshly ground cardamom is worth the effort!
*** Home-made garam masala made regularly in small batches (to a good recipe) is much more intense in flavour and aroma than many ready-made brands, which are often bulked with cheap fillers such as coriander and cumin. You may need more if using a less a
**** Adding chilled cream or yoghurt to hot food can sometimes make it curdle, so take this out of the fridge half an hour before you start cooking.

Instructions

1.Add all the marinade ingredients to the meat and mix together thoroughly. Leave covered in the fridge for a few hours or overnight.
2.Heat the ghee in a large heavy-based pan and add the cumin seeds. As soon the as the cumin seeds start to sizzle add the onions.
3.Fry until medium brown, stirring constantly. Indian dishes require more browning of onions than traditionally recommended in western cooking so be patient, this stage takes time, often at least 15 minutes.
4.Add tomatoes and fry until they have become mushy and the oil begins to separate.
5.After being left to marinate, the mince is often a dense and solid mass. Pull the meat apart into small pieces and add to the pan, using the back of a spoon or spatula to break up any clumps. A potato masher is useful to break the mince apart more thoroughly.
6.Fry until the meat is lightly browned - about 10 minutes.
7.Add water, turn the heat down to a simmer and cook until the meat is done and the oil separates.
8.Taste for salt and chilli, and add more if needed.
9.Stir in the double cream and 2 tablespoons of the chopped coriander.
10.Transfer to a serving dish, sprinkle garam masala over the top and close the lid for a few minutes. Before serving, garnish with the remaining coriander leaves and fresh green chilli if using.
11.Serve hot with Pulao Rice, Chapatties or Nan or any Middle Eastern flat bread.

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