Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the humble aloo keema, the king of comfort food, made by brown moms all over the world. Aloo keema is a traditional Pakistani / North Indian dish, eaten with rice, roti or parathas. You can call it a one-pot Ground beef potato curry. Quickest meal to whip up and remarkably hard to mess up! Lets begin!
What is Aloo Keema
Aloo keema or Qeema is a traditional home style Pakistani / North Indian dish made with curried potatoes (aloo) and ground meat(keema). Typically, its made with beef in most Pakistani houses, and its one of those weekly rotation kinda recipes. And I know I am not exxagerating here when I say, that all Pakistani folks have grown up eating aloo keema.
And since it’s such a household name for us, we also have our preferences of how we like our aloo keema. My family enjoys a saucier version, while some prefer a drier stir fry consistency. Some are adamant that its only eaten with roti, and others have it with lentils and rice. And don’t get me started on the whole “Is it Aloo keema or Keema Aloo” debate. The only thing we all can agree on, it that its delicious. Its not snazyy or trendy, but it is what the heart wants after a long tiring day. After so much that is dissapointing in life, Aloo keema never dissapoints. (that was deeeep)
Why this recipe works
- Tried and tested. If you are new to this blog, than you need to know, that I test and re-test and consume maybe 15 versions of any recipe before I deem it “worthy” of your time and effort. This recipe, has been tried and tested to make sure that I bring you the easiest, quickest way to reach the Mom-Level awesomeness.
- Its VERY HARD to mess up! no kidding. This is a fool-proof dish and no matter how many errors you make, you will still come up with something yum! Beginners, your welcome!
- Super versatile! Although this recipe uses potatoes, you can go ahead and experiment with it and add any vegetables that you like, and you will still end up with something incredible.
- Ready under 30 minutes! Now you know why this is a favorite for weekly rotations.
- One-pot Recipe: Eh! you know that means, less clean up!
- Left over remix: Hands down one of the best dishes to use as left overs (more on that later)
Some notes on ingredients and substitutes
- Whole Spices: They add aroma and flavor to the curry. You can use garam masala powder if you don’t have whole spices. They are meant to be discarded after cooking and not eaten. You can skip them completely if you feel you will bite into them accidentally, OR you could add them in a tea infuser ball.
- Ground beef: You will find coarse and fine ground beef when buying from butchers. I recommend using coarse ground beef for all curry based recipes. It is chunkier and gives you that bite, that you will not get in a fine grind. Full fat and lean, both work well for this recipe
- Potatoes: All potatoes work beautifully in this recipe. However, all varieties of potatoes cook at slightly different timing. So you might have to cook some of them longer if need be. I’ve diced the potatoes into 1/2 inch cubes, which I feel works best for aloo keema
- Tomato paste: Best thing to add to your aloo keema! They bring a slight tang and pop of color to the curry. And they don’t need a lot of time to cook. You can also use tomato puree instead, just add it while frying ground beef because purees take longer to cook.
- Onions: This recipe requires onions to be fried golden brown at the very start of the recipe. If you are using pre-fried brown onions from the market, simply add in your onions at the end while simmering the curry in water.
Instructions and Important Notes
1. Frying Onions.
In a medium sized pot, add all the whole spices and onions and fry in oil. We need the onions to look golden brown, but not dark in color.
NOTE: If your onions turn a slightly darker shade, don’t fret. It won’t effect the taste as much, but will only make your gravy look darker. Ofcourse burnt onions need to be discarded.
2. Sauteeing the meat
In goes your ground beef and garlic ginger paste. Everytime I post a meat recipe, I always talk about how important it is to evaporate all the water from it. The water in the meat carries a “raw meat smell” and if not dried, it lingers on even after cooking for a longer period of time. It takes about 4 to 5 mins, but just sautee your beef at high flame until you see oil shining through again, or see your meat dry up. This step is also called bhunnayi where you sear the beef bits in oil to get a slight color.
3. Preparing the curry.
Now your raw powdered spices go in. Give it another 3 mins of sautee action to allow them to be tempered.
After tempering spices, you can add the potatoes, yogurt and tomato paste all at once.
NOTE: Any yogurt you add to a gravy should be beaten and left at the counter when you start the recipe, to bring it down to room temperature. This way it never curdles in your curry.
Now add water to allow the potatoes to soften up. I’ve also added green chilies in this step. If you are someone who doesn’t like spicy food or don’t like green chilies in general, you can skip them completely. Cover the pot and let the potatoes simmer
NOTE: Most variety of potatoes will cook withing 5 to 10 mins of simmering. Check in 10 mins to see if your potatoes are done. Add more water and leave for longer if you need to.
And lastly, you know your curry is fully cooked and ready when you see oil seperating on the sides. If you are using less oil than mentioned in the recipe, then you might only catch a shine on the surface. Garnish with chopped coriander and serve.
NOTE: This curry is on the saucier side, which is how we like it in our house. If you’d like it to be dry, than just cook at high flame for a min or 2 to get rid of the water.
This recipe pairs well with almost anything, but here are the top options
- Flatbread ideas: Roti, Naan, Parathas, puris
- Rice options: Basmati Rice or Matar pulao
- Toasted bread or buns
- Diet options: Serve with couscous or quinoa if you are avoiding rice. You can also have this on the side of cauliflower rice.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I make this recipe with chicken or lamb
Ofcourse! Traditionally, most Pakistanis use ground beef for the recipe, but it can absolutely be made with chicken mince, ground lamb or goat. The cooking times remain fairly same in all cases.
Can I add other vegetables to aloo keema?
Aloo keema matar (potato beef peas) is a super popular variation of this same recipe. You can also add diced carrots as well or any other hard vegetable that you like. IF you are on a low-carb diet, you can make this recipe using sweet potatoes rather than the regular ones.
How to store the keema
Aloo keema lasts in the fridge easily for upto 5 days. Although all potato based curries don’t freeze well. They leech out water and change their texture. I would personally not recommend freezing this after potatoes have been added.
Can I use less oil for this recipe?
Absolutely! Aloo keema is one of the most forgiving recipes and works just fine with all sorts of variations. The only thing you will compromise on with less oil is that oil seperation at the final stage of cooking. Thats it!
Not a fan of coriander, can I skip the garnish?
Yeah so many of you have talked about your distaste for coriander leaves over at instagram. Thats fine. Go ahead and use chopped parsley instead.
Left Over Ideas
As promised, here is my list of favorite ways to use aloo keema left overs:
- Make toasted sandwiches with mayo, cheese and leftover Aloo keema
- Fill it up in puff pastry sheets and bake
- Revive the quantity by adding some boiled, seasoned peas and eat with roti, paratha
- Boil some potatoes and add the left overs to make a mixture and make them into keema aloo patties. Coat them in bread crumbs, fry and enjoy!
- Add half a can of pasta sauce in the left over and use as dip for nachos or crackers.
More keema Recipes you can try
- 1/3 cup oil
- 1 whole large onion sliced
- 500 gm boneless beef mince
- 250 gm potato cut into ½ inch cubes
- 2 cup Water – as needed to cook minced meat
- 1 ½ teaspoon table salt (or to taste)
- 1 tea spoon red chili powder
- ½ teaspoon red chili flakes
- ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1 teaspoon coriander powder
- 1 tablespoon garlic ginger paste
- ½ cup yogurt beaten and room temperature
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste optional.
- 4 whole serrano green chilies with stems removed
- 2 tablespoon chopped coriander for garnish
- 1 stick cinnamon
- 4 whole cloves
- 5 black peppercorns
- 4 green cardamom
- 2 black cardamom
- Add oil in a medium sized pot on medium heat
- Add all the whole spices and onions in oil. Fry onions until they turn light golden brown in color
- Add your minced meat along with ginger garlic paste and turn the heat to high. Saute the meat till all the water from the meat evaporates. This step is called bhunayyi and is used to fry the meat in oil and get rid of raw smells if any.
- After all the water evaporates, add all powdered spices and salt. Saute for another 2 to 3 mins or until all the meat is evenly colored. Reduce the heat to low
- Chuck in the potato chunks, yogurt and tomato paste and stir everything together.
- Add water and green chilies to the meat, and bring back the heat to medium high. Allow the water to start simmering and then cover with a lid. Cook for 6 to 10 mins or as long as it takes for the potatoes to cook through. IF the potatoes are still hard after 10 mins, cook for another 5 and add more water if needed.
- When your curry is ready, you will see oil seperating on the sides of the pot. At this stage, you can decide how runny you want to keep your aloo keema. You can dry out the water if you want to or leave it as is.
- Garnish with coriander and serve with roti or naan on the side.
- IF you don’t have tomato paste, you can add 1/2 tomato finely chopped instead. You can also use tomato puree, but then you need to add it before potatoes and cook it for about 5 to 8 mins first, to allow the rawness of the puree to cook through.
- You can make the same recipe using chicken mince or lamb mince. The steps and timing all stay the same for both options.
- If you are using pre-fried brown onions from the market, directly add your ground beef to the oil with whole spices. And add the pre fried brown onions when you add the yogurt.