Wednesday, 15 August 2012

keema simla mirch - pakistani mince beef with green peppers

keema simla mirch
i remember angst and myself having many midnight conversations in my early twenties. they often took place over keema sandwiches and were a product of post-graduation jitters, readjusting to living with the parents and juggling multiple jobs. there was something particularly comforting about just warm keema held between slices of very soft white bread. if the keema had aloo in it, the chunks would have to be made manageable by a rough smash. a lacquer of mitchell’s chilli garlic sauce would pick up the heat. this was a sandwich to be eaten with care, as the infrastructure of the bread was frail against its contents. i loved the marriage of soft sweet bread with a meaty centre and the heat of the chilli sauce. 

when i moved to london in twenty o seven it was these along with thandi dhal kay sandwiches (cold channa lentil sandwiches) that i missed the most. for some years it was the preserve of memory that kept me from cooking keema. i did not want to adjust my expectations of the sandwich; especially since my channa dhal ones never tasted the same as the ones in pakistan. i find that the dhal here does not tenderize the same way. but at some point, waiting for an annual visit to pakistan to eat this favourite became absurd and so began the journey for the recipe for perfect keema. it has taken me several tries to reach contentment. as far as i am concerned it doesn’t get any better than the recipe below. 

o who had been a reluctant keema eater thoroughly enjoys eating this. we usually have ours with pita bread, a cumin and potato laced raita and some mango chutney. leftovers are often recycled for weekend brunch. slices of toasted farmhouse bread are layered with thick rounds of beef tomato, a generous helping of keema finished with a fried egg. a zigzag of sriracha lends colour and heat. the spice spoon makes asian sloppy yusef’s that are equally tasty. 

in pakistan keema is often a canvas for vegetables, the most popular being large chunks of potato. my personal favourites included peas or strips of green pepper. you could also add chickpeas or kidney beans. mama makes a wonderful keema pulao that is on my ever-growing list of things to cook. keema with green peppers likes a sweet element, usually chutney of some sort like mango or aloo bukharay ki chutney (although made of plums the flavour of this chutney is distinct from british plum chutney. whole dried plums are boiled in a syrup of vinegar, sugar and salt. often slivered almonds are added for some texture). this is because keema with simla mirch has a slightly bitter edge and the sweet-tartness of chutney smoothes that taste. 

{ keema simla mirch} 

two tablespoons sunflower oil 
a large yellow onion cut into fine half moons 
three cloves garlic, finely minced 
a thimble size piece of ginger, grated fine 
salt to taste 
a small stick of cinnamon 
three cloves 
quarter teaspoon red chilli flakes 
half a teaspoon turmeric 
one tablespoon cumin powder 
one tablespoon coriander powder 
five hundred grams beef mince 
two hundred and fifty ml water 
four tablespoons tomato paste 
two green peppers, cored, deseeded and cut into medium-thick strips 
one hundred and twenty five ml water 

start by browning the onions on medium heat. take your time over this. the onions should change colour gradually rather than going from light to dark almost instantly. once they are nutty brown add the ginger, garlic and spices. let these fry for a minute at the most. 

then turn the heat up and add the beef mince. fry the meat until it looses its pinkness and stops smelling raw. this should take between five to seven minutes. add the water, cover and reduce the heat. let simmer for around half an hour stirring every so often to make sure that the mince does not stick. 

after half an hour add the tomato paste and turn the heat up. this will help the water evaporate and the mince to brown. in pakistani cuisine the process of ‘bhuno’ is essential to bringing out the flavours of the spice and tenderising the meat. it essentially involves frying the mince until its colour deepens and it sweats the spices oil in which it is fried. 

once the keema is well bhuno-ed add the green peppers and water. let them fry on high heat for three to four minutes. then turn the heat off and cover with a lid to allow the peppers to steam for five minutes. i like my peppers to be ‘khara’, a term that mama uses for vegetables that retain a bite as the literal meaning of khara is standing. you can cook your peppers for a little longer if you prefer them to be softer.

1 comment:

  1. Very nice. Waiting for new recipes. i am also interested to innovate some new dishes you pay take a look at Pakistani Recipes and comment